The Texas state Legislature is considering two pieces of legislation that would move the state government out of its two data centers and into the cloud, with the goal of securing sensitive state data and saving taxpayer dollars.

On Feb. 13, state Sen. Jane Nelson filed a bill that would require state agencies to consider cloud solutions when “making purchases for a major information resources project,” and during the “development of new information technology software applications.”

Another piece of legislation, submitted by state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione would create a state technology modernization account–similar in nature to the Federal Modernizing Government Technology Fund–that state agencies could use to transition the agency’s legacy IT systems to the cloud.

The push for many legislators who support the bills is the ability to save taxpayer dollars.

“What can we do to try to reduce those costs?” asked state Rep. Capriglione at a committee hearing. “Today there’s a lot of options in terms of what we can do with the data center.”

According to the Texas Tribune, which first reported the news, a decade ago it cost Texas $278 million to run the data centers over the state’s two-year budget cycle. However, the cost has ballooned to $489 million in operating expenses since then.

While supporters of the legislation point towards cost savings and improved data security, the detractors are concerned that transitioning the data could be expensive, time consuming, and not without risk. Additionally, the Texas Tribune reported that some legislators are concerned about Texas’ sensitive data being stored outside of the Lone Star State. However, supporters of the legislation suggested those concerns are unwarranted.

“We are not signing a contract with anybody until we have a chance to find out what’s really going on here,” said Sen. Nelson, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “The discussion about whether we do cloud and all that, we can have that discussion. I want to make sure–A, we’re protecting that information, [and] B, that we are keeping that information in Texas.”

In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Capriglione stressed that the legislation being proposed this session is the best chance at modernizing Texas’ data storage, “Here’s the reality: Anyone that’s looking at this has come to the conclusion that cloud-based technology is significantly more secure, more resilient, more future-proof, than any sort of in-house data center client service.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs