Angelo Riddick, director of the Bureau of Information Technology, made a budget request of $5.38million for fiscal year 2018, which is pretty near its 2017 request.
“While we have exhausted our financial resources and are functioning at bare minimum, we will continue striving to accomplish more with less,” Riddick commented during his appearance at Thursday’s Senate budget hearing.
In answer to questions from Sen. Neville James, he said in a perfect world his department would have 36 employees instead of the 18 it now has.
The fate of one of those employees might be in jeopardy as it is a federally funded position whose funding will run out in January. That is part of the reason the department is asking for a $150,000 increase from personnel costs of last year.
In answer to a question from Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Hasina Harris, chief finance officer for the department, said the $150,000 includes that salary, increase in overtime and raises for personnel.
Riddick said his request included funds to support the IT infrastructure and emergency communications. Riddick said, “The territory’s 911-radio system needs to be upgraded. This system has components that are failing due to the age of the equipment; additionally, the vendor is no longer in existence. Our public safety personnel and our citizens are at risk of not getting needed help in times of crisis.”
This prompted a response from Sen. Tregenza Roach, “We need to pay urgent attention to this.”
According to Riddick, one of the first tasks that Gov. Kenneth Mapp had assigned him was getting security cameras running on all islands. Riddick said that project has been frustrating, as he was trying to work with a donor to pay much of the cost. His written testimony said the St. Croix Foundation volunteered to donate $1.3 million to the project. But he did not read that part of his testimony and in answers to questions from the Senators he mentioned an effort to get another donor. Still, he expressed hope that the project would be physically started within 30 days.
The budget request includes $1.8 million to cover the cost of software licensing for Microsoft products, and the cost of renewal licensing for BIT’s video conferencing system.
It also includes $1.2 million for maintenance costs and lease costs for tower sites territory-wide.
Riddick also mentioned that his department was involved in the BMV Operations Automation Project. This project is to help upgrade the Virgin Islands driver license system in compliance with the Real ID requirements, as well as for the upgrade of the vehicle registration system.
Attending the hearing for BIT along with Riddick and Harris were David Paris, facilities manager and Rommel Wallace, project manager.