The governor’s final Cabinet nominee breezed through a Senate committee on Wednesday on his way toward confirmation.
The Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee recommended confirming Eric Boyette to be the state’s chief information officer. A nominations committee and the full Senate will have the final say.
Boyette is currently serving in the job. He took over as secretary of the state Department of Information Technology after serving as the chief information officer for the state Department of Transportation. He also served as acting commissioner for the Division of Motor Vehicles.
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Much of the questioning from senators focused on computer hacking, as it has been a national issue involving President Donald Trump – prompting one committee member to jokingly ask Boyette if he had any Russian connections.
Boyette said the department has security experts whose job it is to detect and try to stay ahead of potential intrusions.
“Cybersecurity is an issue,” he said. “It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The longer we put it off, we’re going to pay for it.”
He said another challenge facing the IT department is how to retain employees that it trains, as many leave for jobs in private industry.
“The retention thing is where I struggle,” Boyette said. “I’m open to ideas.”
Asked how he would guard against becoming too close to vendors and potential vendors, Boyette said he meets vendors initially but then relies on staff to evaluate contracts and proposals.
The department is evaluating how to prioritize the parts of the state that need the most IT help.