Utah’s current legislative session is the busiest of times for Utah State University graduate Mark Allred, an IT Manager in the state’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. When he started this job 23 years ago he did the computer stuff in his spare time. Now he is fulltime in support services for the legislature. “Bills, as they are created for the legislators, come from the office I work for. It’s done in an electronic form and we make sure copies of it show up on the Internet where it can be seen at le.utah.gov. It also shows up on legislators’ laptops at their desks so they can see what bills they’re voting on and what amendments are proposed or where it is in the process. “When votes are being taken the data that’s fed to the voting systems comes from our office. Pretty much all non-budgetary stuff comes from our office,” said Allred. The work of Allred and his associates is evident when a legislator goes before colleagues for a presentation on the floor of the chamber. “We have written computer programs that allow the people on the floor or in a committee meeting to pull the trigger,” Allred said, bringing forth the display of information to support the legislator’s presentation. “We make sure the computer programs that are supposed to pick up on that are working. We get called in when, for whatever reason, the automatic stuff might not work.” In nearly two dozen years on Capitol Hill Allred says he has seen remarkable changes. “When I started they had just purchased their first word processing system, it was a Wang system,” he said. “It had a 10 megabyte hard disc that was about the size of a boom box. Now we have a website and all kinds of databases. It’s a lot different. Years ago I did this on my own but now we have a great staff of programmers who can take an idea and the next thing you know they have a prototype, an example of something we can run past the legislators.” Allred said responsibilities change a little when the legislature is not in session. “They do have meetings quite regularly during what is called the interim between legislative sessions,” said Allred. “So, we’re getting ready for those. Also, that time is the opportunity for us to develop new tools that legislators will ask about that might be helpful to them in the next legislative session.”
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