Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 7, Issue No. 1                                                                                               Jan-Feb, 2015 

Striding into 2015 and new MSI model for GETS

I'm excited by the prospects for the GETS program in 2015. We're on the cusp of ringing up real returns from the solid foundation we've built together, going all the way back to the program's beginnings.


This is the year the multisourcing service integration (MSI) delivery model will take shape in GETS. With it, we expect the state's IT environment to become even better managed and more efficient. And quality of service, always a top priority, stands to improve further for GETS agencies.


Through all of 2014, and with invaluable involvement from you, the agencies, our teams worked to set the stage for MSI. I thank all the contributors. Without their commitment we couldn't have come this far. They have us on track and right on schedule.


The level of stakeholder support we've seen in MSI work, and in the broader GTA Services Integration Initiative (SII), builds confidence. GETS agencies are with us on this. Your representatives have worked tirelessly alongside GTA, pouring many hours into the MSI RFP work and other SII procurements. They believe, like we do, it's the right direction for the state. And, we have the backing of OPB and the Governor's Office, two essential partners.


We're closing in on selection of the service provider we will ask to contract with us as MSI. The candidates are proven and will serve Georgia well. So will candidates for the various MNS service towers being procured. Plus, our existing service providers have demonstrated readiness to work with us toward incorporating an MSI model. More positives.


The work isn't finished, of course, but I'm more convinced than ever that good things lie ahead.  We've learned plenty in the six years since Georgia signed the initial outsourcing agreements. Across the GETS community we've gained experience and overcome challenges; now we're ready to capitalize on our solid foundation. Our future is bright.


Thank you for your ongoing support.


Calvin Rhodes

State Chief Information Officer

GTA Executive Director


Procurements progress as
MSI model takes shape   


The Services Integration Initiative (SII) continues forward with commitment and diligence from everyone involved - GTA staff, agencies and providers. SII aims to ensure GETS IT services continue to align with Georgia agencies' evolving business needs. Here's the status of key components:


Multisourcing Service Integration (MSI)

Candidate providers have submitted amended solutions now under review. Teams are working toward awarding an MSI contract in early 2015.


Managed Network Services (MNS)

Integration sessions were held in December with prospective MNS providers for voice and LAN/WAN services.  The sessions help providers build a fuller picture of the state's environment and then fine tune their proposed solutions to fit needs. Ahead of a separate RFP for other MNS services (such as conferencing), responses to a request for qualified contractors (RFQC) for those services are being evaluated.


Hosted Contact Center (HCC)

All agencies moving off the Avaya contact center platform in 2014 have completed migration to another HCC tool.  Among them are Secretary of State, Division of Family and Children Services, Department of Driver Services, 1.800.Georgia and others.  Additional agencies are in varying stages of working with contracted providers toward transitioning their HCC services when current contracts expire.  GTA has been in close - often daily - contact with agencies, as well as with their new and existing providers, to ensure a smooth transition to the new service.



Proposals sought for new innovation program 


Agencies are reminded of a January 9, 2015, deadline to submit innovation briefs for consideration through the Georgia Innovation Program. Submissions can come in the form of a new brief or refinement of existing briefs created by participants at the GTA- and OPB-hosted Strategy Summit this past October.


The new program offers Georgia agencies an avenue for cross-agency action where shared business challenges make adopting shared solutions more efficient and economical for the state. This kind of collaboration can lead to solutions (often technology-enabled) that go farther to advance the work of participating agencies and serve the needs of Georgians.


So, how do you get more involved? Consider two paths related to innovation briefs, which are summaries of opportunities to capitalize on a common solution to address business needs shared by multiple agencies:


  • Update an existing innovation brief: Summit participants can update the briefs they earlier created. The business opportunity could be clarified, additional agencies recruited to the cause and/or support from agency leadership confirmed.
  • Submit an additional innovation brief: Summit participants and others can submit new briefs using the innovation opportunity brief template.


Once briefs are finalized, a new cross-agency innovation committee will evaluate them. Top candidates will be selected, and innovation teams formed subsequently to work toward implementing the innovation.  Those shared opportunities will have support in planning, piloting and creating detailed business cases.


Amended briefs and new briefs, as well as questions about the broader innovation program, should be directed to GTA's Joe Coberly.



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Mobile-friendly becomes the standard for state websites


Making government services accessible to Georgians calls for meeting people where they are. Increasingly, that means on their mobile devices.


In 2014 the GeorgiaGov Interactive team within GTA helped agencies make their websites mobile-friendly using an approach known as responsive design. They had already set the example with the 2012 launch of the redesigned GeorgiaGov portal - one of the first state portals to embrace responsive design.


With responsive design implemented, Georgia is at the forefront again, now among the first states (possibly even the very first) to make its entire official web platform responsive. Several months of diligent, painstaking work in collaboration with state agencies secured a mobile-friendly stance for about 70 sites across the GeorgiaGov platform.  Those sites now display content at the ideal resolution for  whatever type of device (PC, tablet or phone) a visitor uses.


That's a win for the state and an even bigger win for the growing number of mobile device users visiting state websites. For the past few months, 46 percent of visitors to state websites on the GeorgiaGov platform did so using phones or tablets. With 15.3 million unique visitors every year, that's a huge chunk of mobile users.




Cloud email now at DOR, GTA; coming soon to DHS, others 

In coordination with Microsoft and GETS full-service agencies, GTA is introducing Microsoft Office 365 cloud email service into the GETS program. Transitions to cloud service began in December, with Department of Revenue and GTA staff now using Office 365 email.  Moves will continue agency-by-agency in early 2015, with the Department of Human Services and its large employee base scheduled to transition this month.  Planning work is also under way at the State Accounting Office.


Office 365 cloud email will replace the GETS email service provided by IBM today.  The migration is ambitious - moving approximately 40,000 email accounts to Office 365.  A successful pilot move at GTA helped clear pitfalls ahead of proceeding at other agencies.


Adoption of cloud email in GETS can pave the way to other Office 365 cloud services for GETS customers. Based on each agency's interests and business needs, other Office 365 services (e.g., cloud storage, text messaging, cloud-based SharePoint) can be procured directly from Microsoft.  The Office 365 cloud email service will be the common thread for all GETS email customer agencies.  


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Georgia CTO helps burst
cloud procurement hang-ups 
When it comes to adopting cloud-based technology services, state and local governments haven't had it easy. It's not for lack of interest or know-how. It often comes down to procurement snags.


"Turns out, trying to buy cloud services like you would physical technology doesn't really work," says state of Georgia Chief Technology Officer Steve Nichols. "The contract language just doesn't translate well."


Steve participated in a work group of about 50 state and local government and vendor community representatives charged with creating standard language to anchor public purchase agreements for cloud services. Organized by the Center for Digital Government, the work group capped nine months of work by issuing in fall 2014 its Guide to Cloud Procurement- a set of model terms and conditions that may help open the gates on public contracting for hosted technology services.


The best practices guide addresses cloud and as-a-service (software, infrastructure, platform) considerations including data ownership and handling, security, breach notification, and operations and audit. For each area the guide provides practical advice on what to anticipate and how to prepare for cloud contract discussions so service needs are met and pitfalls are avoided.


The work group emphasized bridging the divide between what government entities are after from cloud services and what vendors can provide. The 12 participating state and local government entities (Georgia among them) and the 14 vendors worked to find common ground on volatile issues like data breach liability and data ownership. Conflicts there can jeopardize cloud and as-a-service contract discussions.


"Sometimes it comes down to interpretation, even when the vocabulary is shared," Steve says of potential snags in contracting. "Like with data ownership - a public jurisdiction has to ensure it owns its data. That may carry expectations the data resides in the U.S., and even that people working on the data are in the U.S.  Vendors need to know that up front."


The guide and its creators don't promise to have made cloud procurement simple. As Steve points out, government entities may have to rethink demands for absolute assurances and certainties as they step into the pool of cloud services. And providers may have to tailor their breach notification practices, for instance, when contracting with public jurisdictions. The cloud guide can help contracting parties prepare for the flexible procurement practices needed to bring the agility of cloud services more prominently into the government sector.


The Center for Digital Government has also created an accompanying quick reference to its Guide to Cloud Procurement. The quick reference distills the guide's nearly 80 pages into 21 steps on the path to cloud procurement. It highlights how to avoid traditional contracting methods getting in the way of cloud services agreements, and sidestep delays and higher costs in the process.



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  • Three new IT standards (re: data stewards, data storage locations, radio frequency spectrum management) took effect for Georgia agencies in December.  So did an IT guideline related to mobile device management.  See details of these additions, as well as revisions to a number of other IT policies, standards and guidelines on GTA's website.


  • The GETS server consolidation team continued its progress in December as it migrated a set of Department of Public Health servers that support applications including GAVERS (vital records information system) to the state's North Atlanta Data Center.  A set of Department of Corrections servers were also migrated in December.  SCON work will carry on in 2015, with additional server moves at DHS and DPH scheduled this month and others to follow.


  • Media outlet Statescoop featured interviews with two GTA leaders in late 2014.  Chief Operating Officer Dean Johnson spoke of movement toward a "plug-and-play flexible model" in service delivery for Georgia's IT enterprise.  He described this evolution of the privatization of IT services that has already earned the state greater systems reliability, enhanced security and quicker access to new technologies.  Director of Enterprise Governance and Planning Tom Fruman cited Georgia agencies' increased willingness to work with each other on shared business challenges.  He pointed to the new Georgia Innovation Program as creating opportunities for just this sort of cross-agency collaboration on shared (technology) solutions.  See the interviews using the links above.




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