Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/21/2002 08:04 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 426-STATE AGENCY REPORTS/ELECTRONIC FORMS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0643                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  announced that  the  next  order of  business  was                                                              
HOUSE BILL  NO. 426, "An Act  requiring state agencies  to provide                                                              
for  electronic  submission  of   forms  and  relating  to  annual                                                              
reports of state agencies."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0660                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KEN  LANCASTER,  Alaska State  Legislature,  noted                                                              
that his intern,  Justin Carro worked  on HB 426, as a  project of                                                              
his class  at [the  University of Alaska,  Southeast].   He stated                                                              
that  he agrees  with  the attempt  to  "get  the submissions  for                                                              
forms  onto the  computer and  save  time, and  trees, and  money,                                                              
hopefully,  in the  end, regardless  of what  the attached  fiscal                                                              
note may  show, or  represent."   He reminded  the committee  that                                                              
this has been done  in many departments already; it  is not new to                                                              
[the system], but is a more formal way to approach it.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0790                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER   stated  that  eliminating   government                                                              
waste   is  probably   the   single-most   important  issue   that                                                              
legislators are  charged to deal  with.  Alaskans "from  all walks                                                              
of  life" are  concerned with  government  inefficiency, he  said.                                                              
He  defined the  bill  as, essentially,  an  efficiency and  cost-                                                              
saving  measure.    Many  departments   have  already  established                                                              
electronic  forms.   He indicated  programs  that have  repeatedly                                                              
shown  the savings  associated with  the use  of technology.   For                                                              
example,  he  noted  that  the  Department  of  Fish  &  Game  has                                                              
installed a  program for their  permits, which costs  $90,000 "for                                                              
set-up," which saves the department $87,000, annually.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0800                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER  said,   "In  these  times  of  critical                                                              
fiscal situations we  must do what we can to  eliminate waste from                                                              
the system.   It is  this type of  'fat trimming' that  the public                                                              
desires  and  expects."    He expressed  that,  in  all  fairness,                                                              
[legislators]  cannot  claim  to   be  caretakers  of  the  state,                                                              
determining what is  fiscally right, and expect the  people of the                                                              
state  to give up  their dividends  and pay  taxes, when  measures                                                              
like this are not put into place to save government waste.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LANCASTER   concluded    that   this   [proposed]                                                              
legislation is designed  "to not only save us  money."  Indicating                                                              
the attached  fiscal note,  he added:   "We were supposed  to hear                                                              
this, I think, a  couple of days ago at eight  in the morning, and                                                              
I got this at 7:30 the evening before."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0825                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL said the bill did carry a significant fiscal note.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0831                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON offered  an "indirect  comment."   She said                                                              
she  was appalled  and referenced  the  first page  of the  fiscal                                                              
note  [from the  Department of  Administration, dated  3/18/2002],                                                              
which read as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     A conservative  estimate on converting a simple  form to                                                                   
     an online  system is $7,500  per application.   DHSS has                                                                   
     estimated it  has over 800 forms; the estimated  cost to                                                                   
     convert  these business  processes to  an online  format                                                                   
     is about $6 million scheduled over a 6-year period.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  said, "If they've got that  many, then they                                                              
better start figuring out how they can combine some of it."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0873                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  said  she  would  like  to  "piggyback"  on                                                              
Representative   Wilson's  comment.     She  stated  that   it  is                                                              
absolutely true that  working with Alaska state  government is the                                                              
most difficult thing  to do.  She said this bill  would not change                                                              
that.    The  way  to  do  so,   she  described,  is  to  have  an                                                              
administration willing  to look for "efficiencies"  and willing to                                                              
battle with  the union "on the  rejection of the number  of jobs."                                                              
She indicated  that she understands that  it is a big  battle, but                                                              
"if we're  ever going to  get our fiscal  house in order,  we need                                                              
to go there."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES said she  supports HB 426  and thinks  it is                                                              
embarrassing  that it is  necessary at  all.   She noted  that she                                                              
discounts the  fiscal note,  and she referred  to language  on the                                                              
[second] page of the fiscal note, which read as follows:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     This  bill provides  exemptions if  converting forms  to                                                                   
     electronic  format would be  "technically infeasible  or                                                                   
     fiscally  irresponsible", based  on an  analysis of  the                                                                   
     life-cycle  costs   and  benefits  of   the  conversion.                                                                   
     Conducting  this  type  of  analysis  for  thousands  of                                                                   
     forms and  processing exemption  requests would  be very                                                                   
     time  consuming and  would not  be an  effective use  of                                                                   
     state resources.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES,  in conclusion, stated that  she supports HB                                                              
426  and is  not scared  of  the fiscal  note;  the House  Finance                                                              
Standing Committee can decide what happens to it.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1000                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS noted  that the fiscal  note includes  the                                                              
word  "paperless" and  asked Representative  Lancaster  if he  was                                                              
"talking about paperless systems here."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1050                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER  answered  that,  in some  cases,  there                                                              
would be  paperless transactions,  since  much of the  information                                                              
could be  saved to  disks.   He mentioned  his real estate  broker                                                              
closing transactions with electronic signatures.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1089                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  noted  that  this  certainly  would  [bring                                                              
about] a  paper reduction,  and a  postage reduction,  and perhaps                                                              
gasoline reduction.   She  said, "We're going  to be  going there,                                                              
whether we put a  piece of legislation forward, or  not.  And this                                                              
just   gives  it   a  little   nudge,  I   believe."     Necessary                                                              
transactions can be kept on disk, she added.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1151                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES recounted  a story of  "when she  first came                                                              
here" in  1993 and  she witnessed  the use  of Xerox machines  and                                                              
boxes  for recycling  and thought  that it  was really  ridiculous                                                              
that so much  paper was used.   She proffered that in  the future,                                                              
[legislators]  may have computers  in front of  them and,  when an                                                              
amendment  is offered  during a  hearing,  they would  be able  to                                                              
look at it, without having to receive a printed copy.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1200                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  mentioned  meeting  an  "insurance  person"                                                              
while she  was running [for  office] in  1992, who told  her that,                                                              
in  order  to  get  his  license,  he  had  to  have  11  original                                                              
notarized copies.   She  indicated that she  had objected  and had                                                              
surmised that one  original copy would have sufficed,  with notice                                                              
via  computer  that it  was  available.    She  said, "Did  I  get                                                              
anywhere on that?  No, [I] didn't."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1248                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JAMES  noted   that  people,   in  general,   are                                                              
resistant  to change  and, specifically,  all administrations  are                                                              
going to  be resistant  to change.   She  told the committee  that                                                              
her  father and  her maternal  grandmother informed  her early  in                                                              
life that  "if you're  going to  be successful  in this  life, you                                                              
need to be  on the cusp of change,  and know what change  is going                                                              
to be, before you get there."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1275                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LANCASTER   pointed   out   that   the   problem,                                                              
particularly  with the  fiscal note,  is that  [the Department  of                                                              
Administration] had  no discussion with his office  and the fiscal                                                              
note showed  up on the  computer late on  the evening  before [the                                                              
bill was  to be heard].   He said  he thinks  what is seen  in the                                                              
state departments  - which  he credited  Representative  James for                                                              
having  alluded to  - is  that every  department  and division  is                                                              
working  separately  from the  other,  "like  they're  in a  whole                                                              
different world."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL   said  he  supposed   that  the   legislature  has                                                              
witnessed that, because it deals with so many [departments].                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1320                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE commented  that this  is a  good bill  and he                                                              
felt  compelled   to  "piggyback"  on  the  previous   remarks  of                                                              
Representative  James.   He  said, "We're  looking  for, not  only                                                              
efficiencies, but  we're looking into  entering into an  area that                                                              
is  amenable  to   missions  and  measures,  for   example."    He                                                              
indicated that  the move to that  area was already underway.   For                                                              
example,  he noted  that [each  legislator] had  received an  iPAQ                                                              
[handheld  computer].     He  said  this   [proposed  legislation]                                                              
"facilitates  going   into  that  area,  without   anything  being                                                              
hidden."   Representative Fate warned:   "If we do  this piecemeal                                                              
and don't  have this  type of  legislation, it's  so easy  to hide                                                              
personnel,  or equipment,  or anything  else in  ... either  other                                                              
pieces  of  legislation,  or  just,  in their  own  budget."    He                                                              
mentioned   Representative  James's   comments  about   the  paper                                                              
reduction.   He concluded:   "I  don't see how  they came  up with                                                              
this fiscal note,  especially since we have language  in here that                                                              
guards, really, against it."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1407                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  commented  that  he  would like  to  get  to  that                                                              
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1410                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES said  that there  is a  resistance by  "this                                                              
administration," partly  because the people who are  resisting are                                                              
the  people who  are  connected to  the paycheck.    She said  the                                                              
public  is  continually  incensed  when "they  see  the  employees                                                              
doing  something that  is  not really  productive  at that  time."                                                              
Regarding the private  sector, Representative James  said that the                                                              
oil  industry, for  example,  has  recently taken  a  look at  its                                                              
issues  [regarding  redundancy  and  efficiency].    Because  that                                                              
industry's  spending was  more than  its revenue,  it laid  people                                                              
off,  which is  not something  that  happens "in  the state,"  for                                                              
many reasons, she  noted.  Furthermore, "If you do  lay the people                                                              
off,  you  lay  off  the  people  who  are  doing  the  work  that                                                              
everybody sees, not the work that nobody sees."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES   asked:    "Do  we  want  to   go  in  this                                                              
direction?"    She  stated  her  belief  that  "we"  can  be  more                                                              
effective,  over  the long  term,  at less  cost.    She spoke  of                                                              
people  getting a reasonable  wage  for the work  they do,  rather                                                              
than working under what she considers to be a living wage.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS stated  his belief  that it is  inevitable                                                              
that "we  are moving  toward this,"  and that it  is wise  to move                                                              
[the proposed  legislation] ahead.   He recalled  when he  used to                                                              
work  at the  university  and people  were  "thrown into  turmoil"                                                              
when  they  received  a  form  that  could  not  be  done  on  the                                                              
computer, and they  had to find a typewriter.  He  said that he is                                                              
pleased to  be moving  ahead with  [the proposed legislation]  and                                                              
that  it appears  that the  fiscal  note was  just "throwing  some                                                              
sand in the gears and slowing things down."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  said he did not know  that it was throwing  sand in                                                              
the gears.  Rather, it was probably "lifting the discussion."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  said that she  had spoken with a  person who                                                              
works for  the state and was  questioning why it was  necessary to                                                              
have  a Xerox  machine  in  every  office.   Representative  James                                                              
suggested  that  if  printers were  used  instead,  the  expensive                                                              
Xerox machines could be omitted.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1580                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER  said that it  is important to  note that                                                              
the  Department of  Fish  & Game  will be  saving  [the state]  an                                                              
incredible amount of  money, now that its system is  in place.  He                                                              
said,  "Once   we  get   these  in   place,  the   administration,                                                              
hopefully,  will  change  their   attitude  and  receptiveness  to                                                              
something like  this.   Nobody's trying to  shove this  down their                                                              
throat - we're trying to send a message."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1660                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL noted  for the record that Representative  Hayes had                                                              
joined  the   meeting  in  progress.     He  mentioned   "fiscally                                                              
irresponsible"    and   "technically    infeasible"   and    asked                                                              
Representative Lancaster  to explain how he came  to that wording.                                                              
He said, "'Now you can't do that' needs to be answered."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER deferred the question to his intern.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1650                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JUSTIN  CARRO, Intern  to Representative  Lancaster, Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature, explained  as follows:  "The reason  we didn't define                                                              
that is because  I'm not a computer  genius either."   He said the                                                              
people in the  Department of Administration were put  in charge of                                                              
giving  the  exemptions and,  hopefully,  they  will put  the  ITG                                                              
group in charge, because it is knowledgeable about computers.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  surmised:  "Certainly,  given some of  the question                                                              
marks that  we might have  on this administration,  certainly they                                                              
have come  up with  some protocol  of what's  feasible, or  what's                                                              
not  feasible.   It would  be kind  of  interesting for  me, as  a                                                              
committee man,  to see what they're  thinking about when  they say                                                              
that."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1702                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARRO said  blueprints, for  example, would  be difficult  to                                                              
submit  online.   He  mentioned  a  catchall  for those  types  of                                                              
things  and anything  unforeseen  regarding  [not]  being able  to                                                              
read [forms or other documents] on a computer.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1723                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER indicated that  the previous  mention of                                                              
DEC triggered  his brain.  He said  he thinks the two  go together                                                              
- the  "fiscally" and the "technically".   They may  flow together                                                              
at some point, he added.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1749                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  said there has  to be that  safety valve.   He told                                                              
[the  sponsor] that  he described  what  was fiscally  responsible                                                              
fairly   well  in   this,   while   [the  subject   of   "fiscally                                                              
irresponsible"] was "left dangling."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1790                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JACK KREINHEDER,  Chief Analyst,  Office  of the Director,  Office                                                              
of Management  & Budget, Office  of the Governor, stated  that the                                                              
administration  fully  supports  the overall  goal  of  converting                                                              
paper  forms  to  electronic  forms.     He  cited  the  following                                                              
examples  of  forms  and  notices   that  the  administration  has                                                              
already converted:   permanent  fund dividend (PFD)  applications,                                                              
motor  vehicle registration,  fishing  and  hunting licenses,  the                                                              
online  public  notice  system,  and  the  fiscal  note  presently                                                              
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1836                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER  said that  while the  administration supports  the                                                              
overall goal,  it has a problem  with the "blanket,"  or "shotgun"                                                              
approach,  whereby  all of  the  thousands of  forms  used by  the                                                              
state would  have to be  converted.  Even  with the  exemption for                                                              
forms  which   are  "fiscally   irresponsible",  or   "technically                                                              
infeasible",  the  process alone  of  having  to apply  for  those                                                              
exemptions and  conduct a study  to ascertain whether  those forms                                                              
would save money [would be involved].                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1873                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KREINHEDER  told the  committee  that  this plan  would  save                                                              
money  over  time,  but that  there  are  insufficient  staff  and                                                              
resources to convert  the several thousand forms.   He stated that                                                              
what really  needs to be  done is to  choose which forms  are high                                                              
priority, for  example, fish and  game licenses and  motor vehicle                                                              
registrations; those  forms most heavily  used by the public.   He                                                              
also  mentioned  that  the  fiscal  note  had  asterisks  [on  the                                                              
"total"  line] versus  [an  amount], and  he  said it  was just  a                                                              
ballpark estimate.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1923                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER asked  the committee members to  imagine that their                                                              
assignment was to  take any type of paper-based form  and design a                                                              
database for  that form,  set up  the database and,  additionally,                                                              
decide how that  information could be processed  more efficiently.                                                              
He said  that is not  an assignment that  could be completed  in a                                                              
day or  two, but would  take weeks and,  in some cases,  months of                                                              
work.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1951                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KREINHEDER reiterated  the  administration's  support of  the                                                              
concept  of the bill  and restated  its view  that applying  [this                                                              
measure]  to  all of  the  forms  and  having  to go  through  the                                                              
exemption process  would be counterproductive.  He  indicated that                                                              
that   exemption  process   would   involve   the  Department   of                                                              
Administration.   He noted  that, in  a way,  the bill  was geared                                                              
toward   streamlining   government   by   moving   to   electronic                                                              
processes,  but,   as  written,   would  actually  be   an  "anti-                                                              
streamlining measure."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1993                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER  suggested  the following  changes:  examine  forms                                                              
used  by agencies;  prioritize  the  ones  that could  most  cost-                                                              
effectively  be converted to  electronic form;  and work  with the                                                              
departments  on a  consistent form  "interface,"  or "engine,"  so                                                              
that all  of the departments are  using similar software.   A plan                                                              
such  as that  would direct  the Department  of Administration  to                                                              
set priorities, while tackling the problem.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2055                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL noted  that  what Mr.  Kreinheder  suggested was  a                                                              
type of template bill, that would set a pattern of conversion.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[MR. KREINHEDER nodded.]                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2075                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES told  Mr. Kreinheder  that she thought  what                                                              
he was  asking for  would have  a fiscal  note, because  it "tells                                                              
you specifically  what we  want you  to do."   She said,  "I think                                                              
this just tells  you, 'you shall provide'."  It  doesn't specify a                                                              
date,  just   indicates   a  direction  to   follow,  she   added.                                                              
Furthermore,  she  assumed that  that  could  be done  within  the                                                              
current  budget  available.   She  indicated  that this  has  been                                                              
done,  somewhat,  over  the years,  with  driver's  licenses,  for                                                              
example.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  stated that  she  did  not agree  with  Mr.                                                              
Kreinheder's  description  of  the  trouble  involved  in  getting                                                              
exempted.  She said,  "I think what we meant is,  'If this doesn't                                                              
work, you're exempted'."   She told Mr. Kreinheder  that it seemed                                                              
to her that he  was saying, "We can't do this by  next year."  She                                                              
said there  would not  necessarily  be an expectation  that  it be                                                              
done next  year; conversely, this  would just be a  direction from                                                              
the legislature.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  reminded  Mr. Kreinheder  of  her  previous                                                              
testimony,  when she  had expressed  that it  is difficult  for an                                                              
administration  to  do  that;  it  is  difficult  to  have  people                                                              
working  on a  system  that  may cause  them  to lose  their  job.                                                              
Notwithstanding  that, Representative James  said that in  a state                                                              
looking  to  spend less  money  for  more efficient  services,  "I                                                              
think we have to go there."  She asked for a response.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2177                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KREINHEDER answered  that  Representative  James was  correct                                                              
that there  is no timeframe in  the bill; however, he  indicated a                                                              
literal reading  of the bill  [Page 1,  Lines 5-8, which  read, as                                                              
follows]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     A  state   agency  shall  provide  for   the  electronic                                                                   
     submission  of all  forms used  by  the agency,  whether                                                                   
     the forms are  submitted to the agency by  other persons                                                                   
     or used only within the agency itself.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KREINHEDER next  referred  to [Page  1,  Lines 10-13],  which                                                              
read, as follows:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The  department  of  administration  may exempt  a  form                                                                   
     used  by an  agency  of the  executive  branch from  the                                                                   
     requirement  of (a)  of this section  if the  department                                                                   
     finds that  providing for  electronic submission  of the                                                                   
     form  would   be  technically  infeasible   or  fiscally                                                                   
     irresponsible.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KREINHEDER   described  his  perspective   to  Representative                                                              
James:   He outlined  a possible future  scenario, whereby  HB 426                                                              
has passed and  the legislature asks the administration  how it is                                                              
doing in  regard to  the bill.   The administration  responds that                                                              
it  has   converted  another   20  to   50  forms  to   electronic                                                              
processing, but has  not yet addressed the other 4,970  forms.  At                                                              
that  point,  he  noted, the  legislature  could  rightfully  say,                                                              
"Have  you got  a  waiver  for those?    What's you're  status  on                                                              
those?"   Mr. Kreinheder said [the  present language of  the bill]                                                              
puts the  administration in a  situation where it  may technically                                                              
be in noncompliance with the statute.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES said she  did not read  the language  of the                                                              
bill the same way.   After two years, if the  administration had a                                                              
sizeable  amount  of  [conversions]   done,  she  said,  from  her                                                              
perspective, she would say, "This is working."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2280                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE  noted  that Mr.  Kreinheder  had  previously                                                              
mentioned the  "study-time" involved.   He said to him  and to Mr.                                                              
Kline:    "It  would  seem  to me  like  you  should  have  almost                                                              
everything  that's  required,  at your  fingertips,  to  determine                                                              
whether or not you're  capable of doing this."  He  said he didn't                                                              
think it  required a protracted  study.  Representative  Fate said                                                              
he had  run an office that  was "equipment-intensive  and capital-                                                              
intensive,"  and he  could  say exactly  where  everything was  in                                                              
that  office,   as  well  as  "what   the  forms  were   into  the                                                              
insurance," without  requiring a long  time to study.   He said he                                                              
would only take time to determine the feasibility, for example.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE addressed  Mr. Kline  directly regarding  the                                                              
technicality   of   converting    forms.      Returning   to   his                                                              
aforementioned comments,  he asked, "Do  you, or do you  not, have                                                              
these things at your fingertips?"                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2358                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER  responded that  the question  was a difficult  one                                                              
to answer.   He clarified  that when he  had talked about  doing a                                                              
study and  "jumping through  these hoops,"  he had been  referring                                                              
to  the exemption  process,  rather than  to  the conversion  from                                                              
paper form to  electronic form.  As a follow-up  to Representative                                                              
James's  question,  Mr. Kreinheder  said  the state  uses  several                                                              
thousand  forms.    Furthermore,  with regard  to  using  existing                                                              
resources without  dumping millions of dollars into  a "fast-track                                                              
process" to  do the conversions,  he stated his own  feeling that,                                                              
over the  next three  to five  years, it  probably makes  sense to                                                              
only convert  a limited number of  those [forms].  Some  forms are                                                              
used so infrequently,  he noted, that  it would not make  sense to                                                              
convert  them.    He  reiterated   that  the  bill  would  require                                                              
conversion, unless  an exemption  is obtained from  the Department                                                              
of Administration,  which he said is a "make-work  process that we                                                              
want to avoid."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  said, "I never  did find out whether  you had                                                              
those things  at your fingertips."   In response to a  request for                                                              
clarification from  Mr. Kreinheder, he explained  he was referring                                                              
to the data, or equipment required to make those conversions.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER  replied  that, in  some cases,  the answer  is no.                                                              
He indicated that  paper forms may get stuck in a  file or move up                                                              
a chain for further  approval.  He noted that, in  most cases, the                                                              
department  does  not  have  a   database  for  that  program;  it                                                              
probably has a license  for the software, but may  or may not have                                                              
computers  with  the  capabilities   necessary  to  run  it.    He                                                              
reiterated  that it  would  not be  an easy  or  quick process  to                                                              
convert all the forms.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE  reiterated  his aforementioned  question  to                                                              
Mr. Klein.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2489                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ANDY  KLEIN, Information  Technology  Group  (ITG), Department  of                                                              
Administration,  mentioned  a  two-part  answer  and  offered  the                                                              
following  example:   Presently,  the department  is working  with                                                              
the permanent fund  division on a conceptual phase  of an entirely                                                              
online submittal  of the PFD  form for next  year.  This  year the                                                              
form is  available  online, but  the applicant  still has  to sign                                                              
the  form and  send  it  in.   Mr.  Klein indicated  that  digital                                                              
legislation has  been in place for  a couple of years.   [To offer                                                              
that capability to  the applicant] will require  the department to                                                              
have  an "authentication  module"  in place,  which verifies  that                                                              
the person  applying is actually who  he or she claims  to be, and                                                              
is not applying for someone else's PFD.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLEIN  said that the  department has  to deal with  vendors of                                                              
both hardware  and software, consultants,  PFD staff, and  its own                                                              
staff.    The   software  alone  can  cost  between   $500,000  to                                                              
$900,000;  it's  a large  piece  of  software,  required to  do  a                                                              
variety  of  things.   He  said  it  is licensed  on  a  "per-user                                                              
basis," so  the department could  possibly "end up  getting dinged                                                              
for every  citizen in the  State of Alaska."   Mr. Klein  told the                                                              
committee that  ITG is  comprised of a  very competent  staff that                                                              
has the  expertise to do  this.  Regarding  some of  the software,                                                              
the department  has agreements with  one of the companies  and may                                                              
be  able to  get a  break on  pricing; however,  it will  probably                                                              
have  to buy  some  software, specifically  for  this project,  he                                                              
said.  Once this  project is done, the department  will be able to                                                              
use the  same process again  on other forms.   He mentioned  being                                                              
located centrally and trying to get that efficiency.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2606                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLEIN said  the department has the data,  presently, to decide                                                              
which  forms  are  feasible  now  and  how  to  proceed;  however,                                                              
"implementing  those  has  a  cost  associated  with  that."    He                                                              
concluded:   "The State is  a large organization.   There's  a lot                                                              
of times we're going  to have to look at that  over and over again                                                              
to see  how to  ... best  go about doing  different procedures  in                                                              
the state."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2627                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL announced  that he would allow another  five minutes                                                              
for questions  and then would ask  the committee if it  would like                                                              
to  act on  the bill  with the  present  information, or  continue                                                              
with the discussion.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2649                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HAYES   said   it   seemed  to   him   that   the                                                              
technological infrastructure  in the State of Alaska  is not good.                                                              
He asked  how current in technology  are most of  the departments.                                                              
He mentioned  hearing from one  department, for example,  that its                                                              
computers  are not up-to-date  and, therefore,  it cannot  provide                                                              
certain information.   Representative  Hayes said he  assumed that                                                              
the  problem was  a statewide  one, across  all agencies,  because                                                              
the  money   is  not   invested  in   the  state's   technological                                                              
infrastructure,  the same  as  it isn't  invested  in the  state's                                                              
deferred maintenance.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2704                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER said  the short answer is no.  He  said there would                                                              
be  a number  of  cases where  agencies  have  computers that  are                                                              
several  years old  and won't  run current  versions of  software.                                                              
He deferred the question to Mr. Klein for further response.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2715                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KLEIN  said  he  thinks  that  many  of  these  things  would                                                              
ultimately  be  implemented  through   some  type  of  centralized                                                              
agency,  with,   hopefully,  applications  housed   at  a  central                                                              
location.  He  expressed that one of the department's  concerns is                                                              
that this  proposed bill  would encourage  "build-out" of  what is                                                              
called "'stovepipes'  - everyone doing the form in  their own way,                                                              
housing  it in their  way, on  their own  equipment, whether  it's                                                              
good or bad, because  they have the mandate of doing  it, and they                                                              
want to  get that done."   He said that  the department is  in the                                                              
middle  of doing a  statewide ITG  plan, in  hopes of  encouraging                                                              
centralization of those resources, when appropriate.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  interjected  that this  issue  probably  warranted                                                              
further discussion.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2764                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD asked  if this bill  would require  those                                                              
people  who do  not have  access  to, or  do  not wish  to use,  a                                                              
computer, to turn in forms electronically.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER replied  that he did not see the  bill as "banning"                                                              
paper submission  of forms.  He asked Representative  Crawford for                                                              
further clarification.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2816                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  said he did  not see the  issue addressed                                                              
in  the  bill  and,  therefore,  did not  know  how  it  would  be                                                              
treated.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  said  he  thought  that  the  bill  would  require                                                              
another type  of submission,  without precluding  or changing  the                                                              
use of paper.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. KREINHEDER  said, if Representative Crawford's  question asked                                                              
whether  the   bill  would  require   people  to   use  electronic                                                              
submission, the  answer is no.   He proffered that the  concern of                                                              
the administration  is that the  bill is a simplistic  solution to                                                              
a complex  problem.   He offered  the  analogy that  it is a  good                                                              
idea for  students to get straight  A's, but said he  thought that                                                              
"we"  would  all  agree that  the  legislature's  passing  a  bill                                                              
requiring  all  students   to  get  straight  A's   would  not  be                                                              
accessible.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2875                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  suggested  this discussion  could  continue                                                              
all day,  but she did not  think it would progress  further either                                                              
way.  She indicated  putting forth a direction in  which to go and                                                              
mentioned  all these  things being  a part  of the  process.   She                                                              
said that she  appreciates Mr. Klein's concerns  regarding getting                                                              
everybody  on  the  same  system,  an  issue  which  has  been  an                                                              
existing problem.   Furthermore,  she noted  that a resistance  is                                                              
there from the state  employees.  She conveyed a  story of her own                                                              
personal resistance  to computers, when  she was first  exposed to                                                              
them in 1960.   She stated her  readiness to get this  bill moving                                                              
to the House Finance Standing Committee.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked  Representative James to defer  that motion so                                                              
that Representative Hayes could finish his line of questioning.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2945                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES  said he thought that the  bill warrants more                                                              
discussion.   He indicated the way  that budgets are done  in each                                                              
department  and the technological  capabilities  of the state  and                                                              
said he  did not  think that  the committee  should "add  this on"                                                              
until it came up  with a plan for, at least,  deferred maintenance                                                              
of [the  state's] technological  infrastructure.   He said  he did                                                              
not know  at what point  employees are  supposed to find  the time                                                              
to  do all  the things  "we  want them  to  do," on  top of  their                                                              
priorities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL said  he appreciated Representative  Hayes's comment                                                              
and  said  he  thinks  that  is   "probably  the  tension  of  the                                                              
discussion  we're going  to have,  probably  perennially in  state                                                              
government,  or  any  other  agency."    He  said  he  thinks  the                                                              
pressure  to  go  to the  IT  (information  technology)  world  is                                                              
appropriate.   He said he would  be willing to entertain  a motion                                                              
and indicated letting  the House Finance Standing  Committee [take                                                              
over the discussion].                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 02-30, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2999                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked  what the will of the committee  was regarding                                                              
[HB 426].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2980                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES moved  to  report HB  426  out of  committee                                                              
with  individual  recommendations   and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                              
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  said:   "And we  will attach  the fiscal  notes, so                                                              
that the  broader discussion is  brought up.   I mean, if  I found                                                              
that  it was totally  out of  line, I  might have  zeroed it  out;                                                              
but, I  think that ...  the policy discussion  has to happen  in a                                                              
financial world."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2965                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  noted  that   moving  from  one  system  to                                                              
another  is   never  without  cost;   the  benefit  is   that  the                                                              
investment made  improves efficiency  and improves the  cost "down                                                              
the line."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2930                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL said:   "Just for  me, ...  inherently, within  the                                                              
shell,  on  line  6,  is going  to  be  'to  examine,  prioritize,                                                              
convert, and interface.'   So, I think that, just  for the record,                                                              
I would  expect that  and as  the testimony  was brought  forward,                                                              
that would certainly be part of the prioritization process."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2936                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES reiterated  his strong  objection to  moving                                                              
the bill at this  time.  He said he thinks this  issue brings up a                                                              
larger issue  for "state  affairs," reiterating  that there  is no                                                              
comprehensive,   technological,  deferred   maintenance  plan   to                                                              
upgrade [the state's]  systems.  He indicated a  need for deferred                                                              
maintenance plans  for both buildings and technology.   Passing on                                                              
the bill without  this plan will cause problems in  the future, he                                                              
predicted.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2899                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  reminded the committee  that there was a  motion on                                                              
the floor.   Notwithstanding that, he  said he wanted to  give the                                                              
sponsor a  chance to respond to  the most recent  discussion heard                                                              
by the committee.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2878                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER  said he  does  not disagree  that  this                                                              
[proposed  bill]  is part  of  the  bigger  picture, but  he  also                                                              
thinks that  it is a start;  the message needs  to be sent  to the                                                              
department.      He   concurred    with   Representative   James's                                                              
aforementioned  statement  that the  intent  is not  that  [people                                                              
have to make all  the conversions at once].  The  intent, he said,                                                              
is that  [the state] move  in this direction.   He  recalled when,                                                              
approximately  four or five  years ago,  Lieutenant Governor  Fran                                                              
Ulmer  started the  technology  process.   Although  [Alaska]  has                                                              
moved forward  somewhat, and  is viewed  by many  in the  Lower 48                                                              
states  as being  on the  leading  edge, Representative  Lancaster                                                              
said he tends to  disagree with that; he said he  thinks the state                                                              
should have  moved "a  little faster, a  little sooner,"  which is                                                              
what this [proposed legislation] is meant to expedite.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER  said  he  does not  disagree  with  the                                                              
previous  comments   made  by   Representative  Hayes,   regarding                                                              
deferred  maintenance and  natural upgrades  and that there  maybe                                                              
is no provision  for that.  He said, "I can't  disagree with that,                                                              
either,  but, again,  we have  to walk  before we  can run,  and I                                                              
think  this is getting  the message  to the  department [that]  we                                                              
need to move forward."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  said  he would  entertain  a  vote.   He  said  he                                                              
believes that  the House Finance  Standing Committee  probably has                                                              
had "all  of these things  kind of converging  on them."   He said                                                              
he thinks this issue should be part of that discussion.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2826                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD stated  that he  agreed with the  concept                                                              
of [the proposed  bill] and said  he thinks this is  the direction                                                              
that "we  need to  be moving  in."   He said  he has concerns,  as                                                              
well, and  indicated that, although he  would put his name  on the                                                              
bill to move  it along, he thinks  that these concerns  need to be                                                              
addressed.   For example,  he said  he could  foresee a  scenario,                                                              
whereby agencies  decide in the  future that they will  not accept                                                              
paper [forms]  anymore.   He noted  that he is  sure that  many of                                                              
his   constituents   are  uncomfortable   with   electronic   form                                                              
submission  and "don't  have  the  capability of  doing  it."   He                                                              
concluded  that he  thinks that  there is  more that  needs to  be                                                              
included in the bill before it becomes law.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  said he  agreed with  Representative Crawford  that                                                              
there  is more to  it, but  said, "I  don't know  that this  bill,                                                              
necessarily,  has  to  be  more,  because it's  ...  part  of  the                                                              
broader discussion  on managing government."   He said  he doesn't                                                              
think anyone  would ever be forbidden  from using a  [paper] form,                                                              
because of  the need to have  access to government.   He mentioned                                                              
that  accommodations had  been  made for  people  with writing  or                                                              
speaking disabilities.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2725                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.   Representatives  Crawford,  Fate,                                                              
James,   Stevens,  Wilson,   and   Coghill  voted   for  HB   426.                                                              
Representative  Hayes voted  against it.   Therefore,  HB 426  was                                                              
reported  from the  House State  Affairs Standing  Committee by  a                                                              
vote of six to one.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects