Information technology budget approved

Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, speaks in a hearing Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Lawmakers avoided costly add-backs and stuck with many of Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget-trimming recommendations in voting Tuesday on spending plans for the state's information technology division. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Cathleen Allison)

Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, speaks in a hearing Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Lawmakers avoided costly add-backs and stuck with many of Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget-trimming recommendations in voting Tuesday on spending plans for the state's information technology division. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Cathleen Allison)

Nevada lawmakers avoided costly add-backs in voting Tuesday on spending plans for the state's Department of Information Technology.

A Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee approved a technology project to increase DOIT's efficiency and avoid the eventual need to add up to 270 more positions in the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

The efficiency project would help cope with caseload growth in the welfare agency's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Medicaid Child Health Assurance programs.

The new system would allow people to apply for benefits online instead of in person at welfare offices, cutting office and telephone wait time. It also would increase productivity of case workers by adding document imaging and other software.

Assemblyman Moises Denis, D-Las Vegas, said the project would save the state about $15 million per year, and cost $11 million over two years. The money would come from the state general fund, Medicaid and federal food stamps funding.

The panel also voted to eliminate DOIT's Planning and Research Division. Several planner positions would be retained and transferred to other agencies.

One of those IT professionals would be transferred to a web page support group. DOIT chief Dan Stockwell told lawmakers that currently only three people support the Web pages of 161 agencies and commissions.

"We just do not have the staff to provide the services," Stockwell said.

The budget panel also voted to support the state Motor Pool Division's proposed "fleet policy," which would expand from three to eight years the time a state vehicle could be driven before it's replaced.

"I've always believed the state needs a fleet policy," said Keith Wells, administrator for the Motor Pool Division. "We need good controls on the utilization of these assets."

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