Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 7, Issue No. 4                                                                                               Jul-Aug, 2015 

Fourth annual Showcase honors innovative IT in Georgia

GTA's Technology Innovation Showcase attracted a slate of impressive projects again this year.  Since we began the recognition program in 2012, we've seen interest in the showcase increase, along with the quality of projects submitted.  I believe that reflects the important work your agencies are doing to better meet Georgians' needs.


The following projects have been selected to receive top honors this year: 

  • Department of Driver Services: Mobile Emergency Licensing, Pre-apply Online, Self-service Check-in and Lobby Management, Fort Benning Customer Service Center
  • Department of Labor: Automatic Clearinghouse of Overpayments, Work Opportunity Tax Credit Online System
  • Department of Natural Resources: Camp Lawton Augmented Reality
  • Department of Revenue: Exadata Project
  • City of Decatur: Online Business License, Decatur Embraces the Cloud
  • DeKalb County Recorder's Court: Benchmark Case Management System


Brief project overviews are available on the GTA website, and I encourage you to take a look.  I think you'll be impressed.  And, you might come across an idea or two that spur new thinking for opportunities at your agency.


A committee evaluated projects nominated against the following criteria:

  • Level of innovation in addressing a specific business problem
  • Significance to improving business processes and operating efficiency
  • Significance to financial savings or cost avoidance
  • Significance to enhancing service delivery to external or internal customers


We thank all who took time to make submissions this year.  We'll honor the selected projects at the annual Georgia Digital Government Summit in September.


Your agencies continue to innovate, improving services by capitalizing on IT in new ways.  The Showcase spotlights that very caliber of work.  Projects honored this year affirm Georgia's place as a leader in the use of technology to make government more responsive, efficient and accountable.  My congratulations to the honorees.


Thank you for your ongoing support.


Calvin Rhodes

State Chief Information Officer

GTA Executive Director


Prepping now for GETS changes coming Iate summer 


Preparing well for change may be the surest bet for making it smooth.  That's the thinking behind rigorous preparation happening now ahead of improvements coming late summer to the Georgia Enterprise Technology Services program.

When new GETS multisourcing service integrator (MSI) Capgemini launches into full operating mode in late August, you'll see some changes in the ways you interact with the GETS program.  For the standard user, changes in the ways you seek support and order new services.  For agency IT staff, changes in technical processes and tools.  Testing is ongoing now, and training opportunities will soon start.  Both will help set the stage for a smooth transition.

For the large majority of GETS agency staff, the most visible improvements taking effect late August will be service desk-related.  Short videos, quick reference materials and more detailed online training will be made available beginning this month to explain those changes.

The same 877-GTA-3233 service desk number will be used but will connect to a new Capgemini facility operating 24x7.  You'll gain added convenience and choice with new self-service options: submitting support requests online through a new portal, and online chatting with a virtual agent to resolve challenges.  Plus, an archive of answers to common questions will be published, for those who might prefer to track answers on their own.

The how-to for all the new options will be laid out in training being arranged now.  The same is true for ordering IT services through the service catalog, understanding IT billing for finance staff, and more behind-the-scenes process and tools used by technical staff (e.g., those involved in incident management or change management).  You can expect training details soon via separate communication.

Testing happening now with subsets of users will help ensure new tools and processes are ready and will minimize disruptions when they go into use in late August.  Training now being arranged will ready all GETS agencies and team members to capitalize on planned GETS improvements.

It bears repeating that even in the midst of these preparations and changes upcoming, much will remain familiar.  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.  GTA and GETS service partners are working to be sure you're ready for what's new.

Following quickly behind the improvements described above for the August timeframe, other GETS processes and functions will be refined in late 2015.  Network service offerings will be updated including voice, local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN), cable and wiring, and conferencing.  Also included are refinements to other functions like disaster recovery testing, operating level agreement (OLA) measurement, risk management and more.  Stay tuned for more news of improvements coming via the flexible MSI service delivery platform.



Email transition feeds appetite for other cloud services 

GETS agencies' conversion to cloud email made them hungry for more.  More cloud options, that is.  And now, GTA (in coordination with those email customers) is investigating how other Microsoft Office 365 cloud services might be most effectively incorporated into GETS offerings.


With Office 365 email, the GETS IT enterprise has its fingertips in the cloud.  The recent migration saw nearly 41,000 emailboxes moved to the cloud -- that's all GETS email customers, in a span of just six months.


Cloud email and the flexibility it brings has GETS agencies experimenting with other Office 365 services.  Things like instant messaging and conferencing (Skype for Business), SharePoint in the cloud, personal cloud storage (OneDrive), and the capability to download the Microsoft Office suite onto multiple devices (Office ProPlus).  Not surprisingly, with each of these powerful services come support needs, for the standard users and for administrators.  GTA is looking into how to meet those needs through the GETS program and will continue to carefully coordinate with agencies to best address their evolving business needs.


The recent email conversion illustrated the value of solid support.  With conversion came separation of the cloud-based active directory (user authentication/authorization) structure supporting Office 365 email from the predecessor on-premise active directory. For agencies' IT teams, that brings new flexibility in the way they administer email accounts for their staff.  For everybody in GETS agencies, it means separate ID and password for signing on to email vs. signing on to their computers.


Some GETS email customers dealt with stubborn account lockouts following conversion.  At the same time, customers were new to managing separate IDs and passwords for email vs. computer sign-on.  It added up to some inconvenience that appears now to have been contained or even overcome with the help of capable Microsoft support personnel.  User access to a new Office 365 email password self-service reset tool also made a positive difference.


Where there's enterprise interest in cloud offerings, GTA and GETS agencies are collaborating to ensure appropriate support provisions accompany such innovations into the slate of GETS IT services.



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GovTalks affirms, content is still king for agency websites


"Get to the point."  Often heard when patience has run dry.  Drained of emotion though, it's just good-sense counsel.


That's the way it was intended as the theme of last month's GOVTalks. This installment of the GTA-hosted conference series keyed on content. Website content -- where if you're looking to ensure great websites and user experiences, you have to get to the point.


For state agency websites, content still rules the kingdom.  GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team, the conference hosts, emphasized the point.  Content is the top consideration for website visitors.  It's the reason for their visit.  The make-or-break factor for a positive website experience.  So it's the first thing you want to get right.


The June event drew more than 50 participants from 32 agencies, all eager to find new ways to make their website content more useful and accessible to Georgians. GeorgiaGov Interactive presenters were joined by speakers and panelists from other government agencies and private companies.  Summaries of remarks, presentation files and videos are available on a GOVTalks: Content blog.


With its focus on writing and managing effective web content, the event also emphasized taking a mobile-first approach, and implementing standards to ensure websites are accessible to users who have visual, auditory or other limitations.


Check the GeorgiaGov Interactive website for information about this and previous GOVTalks sessions, as well as other offerings that promote effective agency websites.



GETS disaster recovery tabletop exercise upcoming 


GTA, AT&T, IBM and new GETS multisourcing service integrator (MSI) Capgemini will work with agencies to conduct disaster recovery (DR) tabletop exercises in late September 2015. During these sessions the team will walk through a simulated disaster scenario to familiarize GETS agency participants with how their DR plans would be used in an actual disaster.


Exercise objectives also include:

  • Review disaster declaration procedures
  • Review, validate and update recovery processes and procedures
  • Discuss changes in an agency's applications and/or recovery requirements
  • Discuss third-party partners' connection requirements

Agencies are encouraged to update their existing DR plans now to benefit more fully from the tabletop exercise in September. Questions can be emailed to IBM's Ed Adams.


Disaster recovery is among the functions expected to evolve with the adoption of an MSI model being implemented this year in the GETS program.



Digital Gov't Summit brings together business, IT leaders


Registration is now open for the 2015 Georgia Digital Government Summit, an annual event for both IT and business leaders from state and local governments. The summit will take place September 22 and 23 at the Westin Buckhead, 3391 Peachtree Road, N.E., in Atlanta. The registration fee is $25 for public-sector employees.


Topics include:

  • Innovation and leadership
  • Digital government trends
  • Emerging technologies
  • Mobility and citizen engagement
  • Data and analytics
  • Cyber security
  • Cloud services
  • Collaboration

State and local government agencies will be recognized for their technology achievements, and leading technology companies will exhibit their latest products and services.


For more information and to register online, visit the Digital Government Summit website.





  • The GETS transformation program moves toward completion with recent network services upgrades for Georgia's health agencies and a spring season burst of server consolidation (SCON) progress.  Projects to modernize SSL VPN remote access systems and LAN/WAN systems have both reached completion. So has the broad-ranging voice services refresh, which tallied impressive overall replacements (54,000 new phone sets, 34 PBX systems, 605 key systems) across 1,790 agency sites statewide.  Another network service-related project -- hosted contact center upgrade -- also finished in June.

    SCON momentum grew noticeably through March and April.  And in May, the last of Department of Human Services 200-plus servers to be moved to the state's North Atlanta Data Center were successfully migrated and are now operating from that secure environment.  Remaining SCON work targets servers at Department of Revenue and GTA over the next few months to round out this ambitious project.


  • Unsanctioned use of cloud services creates headaches for some public-sector IT and information security leaders. In an article published May 27, 2015, on, GTA's Steve Nichols and Tom Fruman comment on Georgia's approach (one they call "catch and release") to dealing with "shadow IT." Shadow IT may encompass cloud file-sharing services, and that can pose security risks.  While some public CIOs use network monitoring tools to block cloud file-sharing services, GTA advocates a different approach for the state's IT enterprise. See details on GTA's website.





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