Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 7, Issue No. 3                                                                                               May-Jun, 2015 

Leading by lighting the horizon

The GTA-hosted Technology Summit last week energized my thinking about technology's potential to improve state government services to Georgians.  We all want that, for each of the agencies and entities we represent, and for all the people we serve.  The potential is real, and it was bubbling up at the May 11th summit.


Summit keynote speaker Scott Klososky suggested that using technology well allows us to create a legacy.  That's an exciting opportunity.  A responsibility even.  The summit keyed on one way to seize that opportunity - by identifying ways that sharing information and using technology can advance citizen services.


Judging from attendance at the event (more than 200 people representing 59 different state and local government organizations), the idea holds broad appeal. Government at all levels can respond more fully to constituent needs, provide more innovative services, and operate more efficiently and securely if we're better at sharing information with each other.


That takes leadership - from each of us.  Scott had us think of leadership in terms of low-beam and high-beam headlights.  Just as your car's low-beams light up what's directly ahead, low-beam leadership guides a 12-month view, an operational level perspective.  That's critical -- it suits the day-to-day driving we do most.  It's fair to say though it has limitations when you're looking ahead for trends or investments in the future.


So we don't want to be confined to low-beams exclusively.  High-beams shine farther toward the horizon, figuratively, five-to-seven years out.  That's how we get the fuller picture of what lies ahead, both risks and opportunities.


It's a useful way of thinking about the task we face in state government, and I hope folks walked away from the Technology Summit inspired.  Inspired to make technology work for your agencies, and for Georgians, in new ways.  And with real impact.


Through keynote and breakout sessions, the summit highlighted a range of tangible steps to take to secure that impact.  Some of them producing quick results, and others influencing ways of doing business and shaping longer term outcomes.  (See session details and presentations on our Technology Summit 2015 webpage.)


An example -- our Georgia Innovation Program.  We introduced it last year and reviewed it at the summit.  It powers high-beam leadership for sure.  I encourage your participation.  You and your agency can get more engaged right away by using a new crowd sourcing idea tool to submit ideas and comments for transforming the way we serve citizens in Georgia. 


Effective leaders innovate, a summit keynote speaker said, by combining people, processes and technology.  With that in mind, I'd say we're well positioned to bring about innovation that makes a real difference for the many constituents we all serve.  (Read in this newsletter about some ways it's happening.)  I'm glad to have your partnership in leading that charge.


Thank you for your ongoing support.


Calvin Rhodes

State Chief Information Officer

GTA Executive Director


Service desk among GETS changes coming via MSI 


MSINew GETS multisourcing service integrator (MSI) Capgemini will click into full operating mode later this year.  When they do, the many GETS IT services you rely on -- email and personal computing and network systems among them -- will carry on uninterrupted.  Vendors AT&T, IBM, Microsoft and others will continue to provide services.  Changes will come in the ways customers interact with the GETS program, like seeking support, ordering new services and reporting problems.


Changes to the GETS service desk may be the most visible to take effect when Capgemini begins day-to-day operations in August.

The same 877-GTA-3233 number will be used, but will connect to a Capgemini service desk operating 24x7.  Important to customers, the desk will be equipped to address a broader range of support needs on first contact, without requiring relay to a separate technical team and subsequent callback.  That includes off hours and weekends.  Tight integration with technical support staff will be ensured for support needs that do warrant more extensive input or deskside visits.

Plans also include giving more options for how to interact with the new service desk.  Customers can continue to call if they choose, and entering support requests online will become possible through a new portal.  Online chatting with a virtual agent to resolve challenges is another planned option.  And, an archive of helpful information and answers to common questions will become available, allowing those who might prefer to seek answers on their own to do so.

Beyond service desk enhancements, changes will also come to services ordering.  Those authorized to order IT services for their agencies will do so via a new service catalog, accessed through a new service integration portal.  Greater transparency to agencies' IT expenditures will be gained through a new billing system.  That's to be complemented by a new asset database for improved asset tracking.  IT environment changes and incidents will be handled using a new integrated system. And, agency relationship managers (ARMs) will be part of the Capgemini team deployed as agency advocates.  The new ARMs will work alongside GTA customer relationship managers (CRMs).

Capgemini and GTA have started preparing GETS agencies for these and other changes to take effect in August.  In workstream input groups (WIGs) meeting over the last month and more, agency representatives hear from Capgemini about new processes, tools and approaches.  Agencies provide invaluable feedback to help ensure changes introduced will best suit agencies' needs. The WIG sessions will continue to serve as a key forum for information sharing straight through fall of this year.  Robust training will be offered in conjunction with changing tools and processes.


And, on the heels of the improvements described above for the August timeframe, other GETS processes and functions will be refined in late 2015.  That includes functions like disaster recovery testing, operating level agreement (OLA) measurement, risk management and more.  Stay tuned for more news of planned service improvements coming via the flexible MSI service delivery platform.




GETS enterprise converts to Office 365 cloud email 

Cloud computing is a favorite example given these days of how fast technology is changing. Close to home in the GETS program, cloud services are evolving - perhaps most visibly in the form of Office 365 cloud email service.


Not that long ago GETS agencies came to a consensus on adopting cloud email across the state's IT enterprise. Then over the last six months, in a show of the speed that helps account for cloud services' appeal, Office 365 email has been implemented for all GETS email customers. That's approximately 40 thousand email accounts now moved to cloud email.


Next came the further step of separating the cloud-based active directory (user authentication/authorization) structure supporting Office 365 email from the predecessor on-premise active directory. It means an even purer cloud approach to GETS email service, and it affords agencies new flexibility in the way they administer email accounts for their staff.


Adopting cloud services requires you stay on your toes. As the recent Office 365 email transition has proceeded, GETS full-service agencies across the board have also subscribed to expanded Microsoft cloud services beyond email. That includes Lync messaging and conferencing (aka Skype for Business), SharePoint, Office ProPlus, OneDrive and more. It's happened quickly, and it illustrates the appetite for the flexibility cloud services bring.


Where there's broad interest in cloud offerings, GTA and GETS agencies are collaborating on when to incorporate such innovations into the family of GETS IT services.  That process is made easier by the adaptable GETS service platform being established via multisourcing service integration (see MSI article above) and related refinements.



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Georgia IT recognized in 2015 StateScoop national awards


Three Georgia state government leaders, as well as the state's responsive website design initiative, have been honored with 2015 StateScoop 50 Awards.


StateScoop presented awards in late April, and winners were selected by StateScoop readers. Readers were asked to identify visionary leaders, programs and up-and-comers who best exemplify transformational changes taking place in state and local governments nationwide. About 10,000 readers cast their votes on


The leaders receiving awards are:


Nikhil Deshpande, Director, Interactive - State Up and Comer

For his leadership of Georgia's state portal team and its portal redesign project implementing responsive design technology for 70 Georgia state government websites. The portal ( now automatically adapts its display to a mobile device's screen size. He also inaugurated and oversees GovTALKS, quarterly conferences that help state agencies create great websites and user experiences.


Steve Nichols, GTA Chief Technology Officer - State Leadership Award

For his contributions advising state agency leaders on technology issues. He plays a key role in consolidating and modernizing the state's IT enterprise. In 2014, Steve helped create standard language for government-sector purchase agreements for cloud services. As part of a team organized by the Center for Digital Government, Steve contributed to the Guide to Cloud Procurement.


Calvin Rhodes, GTA Executive Director and State CIO - State Executive of the Year

For his part in leading a public/private partnership that's consolidating and modernizing the state's IT enterprise. He leads a related initiative to make it easier for state agencies to benefit from IT marketplace changes. Calvin serves on the Board of the National Association of State CIOs and several workgroups.

In addition, Georgia's implementation of responsive design, led by GTA's Portal team, was named Innovation of the Year.



New GTA Learning Center helps put training in easy reach


GTA has introduced a new tool to make it easier for agency employees to participate in GTA-led training and education.


The GTA Learning Center, a new learning management system, gives learners the ability to view available GTA classes (web-based, instructor-led and virtual instructor-led); access other web-based training courses; register for training and track course approvals and completions.


Agency participants in training for STARR, GEMS and project management can now use the GTA Learning Center to enroll in and complete courses and classes.  Soon, other programs will be added, such as New Security Officer workshops, Drupal and Organizational Change Management.

Additionally, GTA will be able to offer more technical and business skills courses and scale training to meet the needs of a larger audience. The training and education team can provide monthly training reports to agency users upon request.  Job aids and self-paced training about the new learning management system will be available.
Beginning July 1 you'll be able to request access and use the full features of the GTA Learning Center. Use the link above to get the appropriate request form. Email questions to GTA's training and education team.




  • When it comes to state agency websites, content is still king. It's pivotal to web success -- the foremost consideration for your visitors. So, content will be the focus of a June 3rd GOVTalks workshop presented by GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team.  The session will address writing and managing effective web content, taking a mobile-first approach, and implementing accessibility standards. A content strategy panel featuring subject matter experts from government and the private sector will be available to answer your questions. Get details and register using the link above. Seating is limited, so register soon.


  • The Cyber Defender cyber security exercise held in early April brought together state and federal partners involved in promoting the state's cyber preparedness. Hosted jointly by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security, the Georgia Department of Defense and GTA, the exercise (a first for Georgia) fostered coordination across entities. Participants came away encouraged to continue to mature processes, document plans, strengthen relationships and identify points of contact for escalation across the extended team. Email GTA's Walter Tong for more information.


  • The 877-opinGTA feedback line has been phased out in favor of a new online method for customers to provide anonymous feedback. Details of that new path for your valued input will be announced soon. For the near term, any callers to 877-opinGTA will hear a recorded message indicating the number is no longer in service and directing them to the GETS Service Desk (877-GTA-3233) for technical issues or other assistance.


  • With additional server moves accomplished in April and May, the GETS server consolidation team continued transitioning agency application servers into the state's highly secure North Atlanta Data Center. Recent work has focused on Department of Human Services, Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Administrative Services. Other recent GETS transformation progress includes LAN/WAN upgrades: For Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities headquarters in late April, and for DPH headquarters in mid May.





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