Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 8, Issue No. 4                                                                                               Jul-Aug, 2016 

Getting it right pays off big when it comes to writing RFPs

It's harder to be heard from the sidelines.  That's the plain truth.  If you want a voice in shaping a play and seeing it through, you want to be in the huddle.
We're once again inviting GETS agencies to join us on the field as we prepare to write RFPs for IT infrastructure services.  We can promise your agency a hand in the action.
Creating requests for proposal -- as GTA is doing now for GETS end user computing, mainframe, print and server services -- means getting into the nitty-gritty.  Taking account of the range of IT services the market offers.  Fully understanding and then plainly expressing what the state IT enterprise needs.  Ensuring business needs can be met with services best suited to them.  That's our task.  Want in?  
We put that question to GETS agency IT leaders at an IT infrastructure services RFP kickoff meeting in late June.  We're happy to be hearing from folks ready to participate.  Eager even.  It shows they appreciate what's at stake as the state re-procures GETS infrastructure services currently provided by IBM under a contract set to expire in 2017.  And, it shows they're committed to collaborating with us to ensure GETS program IT service offerings continue to evolve to align with agencies' ever-changing business needs.
That kind of collaboration has characterized GETS since the program's start more than seven years ago.  We've seen repeatedly that agency involvement in shaping service offerings is a key to securing the right services.  It was true with last year's re-procurement of managed network services (i.e., voice, data, network).  It showed itself with the more recent cable and wiring services and audio/video/web conferencing services procurements.  And I fully expect collaboration will once again prove central to a successful infrastructure services re-procurement.

You can read in an RFP article below more about what your GETS agency colleagues are signing up for as they join the RFP writing effort.  Process and timeline information presented at the RFP kickoff meeting is summarized.
It's no small commitment agency representatives make.  You have my sincere thanks.  And while there's certainly a self-interest (making sure your agency gets what it needs) motivating participation, I'm confident there's something more.  We're seeing again a commitment to an enterprise IT services program that delivers what state agencies need.   And, we're seeing a willingness to come together, put heads together, labor together, to pave the way to future GETS services that continue to best serve Georgia.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Calvin Rhodes
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director
State's web practitioners talk digital philosophy at GOVTalks
What's the state's web philosophy?  Does Georgia even have one?
The GeorgiaGov Interactive team, administrators of the state's web platform, brought answers when they spoke at a June GOVTalks conference.  This half-day session, one in a series focused on helping agencies create great websites and user experiences, tracked the evolution of the GeorgiaGov web platform to its present streamlined form.  And it looked ahead at where today's GeorgiaGov initiatives will lead.
The team laid out a simple philosophy -- user first, content first, mobile first.  It's built on simple tenets:
  1. Keep the site user's interests always top of mind.
  2. Web content is why people visit websites, so offer the right content, organized the right way.
  3. Users increasingly rely on mobile devices to visit websites, so ensure sites are mobile-friendly.  

Following these principles takes discipline.  Site users' interests must trump site owners', and any distractions (e.g., lengthy leader profiles and welcome messages).  Always.  Content choices must precede site design, not the other way around.  And commitment to building a mobile-friendly site must be unwavering.  If it's mobile-friendly, it's going to look right, regardless of how users access your site.
That approach has guided the state's movement from having not long ago a network of independently managed agency websites to today's integrated GeorgiaGov web setting with its nearly 80 agency sites.  Along the way Georgia implemented a flexible, cloud-hosted Drupal web publishing platform that brought continuity, increased security, recoverability and reliability.  It accommodated mobile device users by adopting responsive design, becoming one of the first states to do so to ensure all visitors (regardless of device type used) could view and use the sites easily.  Even more recently, the GeorgiaGov Interactive team completed extensive site accessibility improvements to promote better web experiences for all GeorgiaGov site visitors, including those with disabilities (e.g., impaired vision, hearing).
What's ahead?  The GeorgiaGov Interactive team are emphasizing steps to strengthen site content and to more effectively present that content.  After all, you succeed when you provide the content that motivates site visits in the first place, and when you present it in easy-access format.
It comes down to getting the right content to the right users at the right time.  The GeorgiaGov Interactive team can make it easier on agencies to do just that.  Key mechanical considerations for websites are built into today's GeorgiaGov web platform.  Increasingly it's an attractive home for your sites.  The team can help you through content inventories and analytics, tips on taking full advantage of GeorgiaGov tools and guidance to ensure your site performance (e.g., page load time) is optimized.  They can show you data visualization tactics too like infographics that can help accomplish your web goals.
More than 70 agency representatives attended the June GOVTalks.  If you missed it, look for presentation materials to be posted soon on the GOVTalks web page.  The next session is planned toward the end of this year.

ProcurementEmphasis on flexibility evident in IT services procurement
If you're looking to add new IT services quickly, you need flexibility.  To capitalize on technology innovation as it comes along, again you need flexibility.  And with fast-changing state agency business needs almost guaranteed not to wait on slow IT solutions, you have to plan today to be flexible in addressing challenges tomorrow and beyond.
GTA, with critical help from GETS agencies, is laying those plans.  Multi-agency work teams have advanced the state's re-procurement of IT infrastructure services to the stage of drafting a request for proposal (RFP).  Ensuring flexibility will absolutely be a guiding principle of that work.
At a GETS infrastructure services RFP kickoff meeting in late June, GTA leaders mapped a timeline and processes for writing these requests for proposal.  And they asked for agencies' continued participation as they prepare to procure end user computing, mainframe, print and server services currently provided by IBM.  The existing agreement with IBM extends through June 2017, with extension options available.
GTA anticipates creating multiple RFPs, rather than a single aggregated request.  There could be one for print services and another for mainframe, those possibly released in August 2016.  Likely, RFPs would follow in 2017 for end user computing (EUC) and for servers.  Virtual desktop (VDI) services could be woven into the EUC request.  And brokered cloud services could be integrated with the servers RFP.  In this way, new complementary IT services could be requested from the market.  The exact service choices, number of RFPs and timing of their release are still to be decided.  Shorter-term agreements are also being considered.
Creating the RFPs takes multiple passes.  Once an initial draft is in hand, there's review and refinement against market feedback toward an increasingly precise RFP plainly stating IT service needs.  And of course, all of the RFP work comes on the heels of considerable recent effort to gauge IT market offerings and then qualify service providers.  (More than 20 providers responded to GTA's request for qualified contractors and are under evaluation.)  All findings from that procurement work to date are weighed and then turned into specific service requirements via the RFP writing process. 
The approach to this infrastructure services procurement has roots in earlier GETS service integration work.  That work has allowed for a multi-provider shared service delivery platform where common processes, tools and standards extend across all providers.  Last year's addition of a multisourcing service integrator (Capgemini) was a key step in that progression.  More recently, the introduction of multiple providers for cable and wiring services and for audio/video/web conferencing services helps illustrate a trend.  In those developments and in what's envisioned from the infrastructure services procurement, agencies gain more flexibility in securing IT services that best meet their needs.

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Checking the health of state's portfolio of IT projects

With the state's largest and most important technology projects, the stakes are high.  So much is riding on their success. Promoting that success is the aim of the Critical Projects Review Panel, the forum GTA uses to monitor the heavy hitters.  That's a portfolio of IT initiatives representing sizable investment of state resources.  In FY 2015, the portfolio was valued at $282 million and covered 15 projects for nine agencies.
Facilitated by GTA's Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO), the panel focuses on projects with a significant impact on state government's business and objectives, budgets of $1 million or more, and timelines of one year or longer.  The panel meets monthly with agency teams and their vendor partners.  Together, they track project progress, foster accountability, identify risks early and aid in problem solving.  The GTA EPMO team reviews plans, schedules and reports line-by-line for each project.   They stand ready to provide additional assistance where necessary and to help obtain other needed resources.
Among the projects currently reviewed by the panel is the high-profile Integrated Eligibility System (IES) initiative, which will unify eligibility processing for state assistance programs.  Projects aimed at upgrading critical information systems in several state agencies are also getting attention.
The review process is rigorous, and it takes work to get through it.  Project leaders who participate would agree.  But the panel's disciplined portfolio and project management and oversight deliver measurable results.  More broadly, agencies are helped to better serve Georgians.

  • Georgia state agencies and other public sector entities now have access to expanded audio/video/web conferencing services. These agencies and entities can select from multiple vendors for conferencing services, capitalizing on more service options at competitive prices.  And, additional service providers may be added.  This flexibility in service offerings is characteristic of GTA's broader GETS service delivery platform, aimed at providing more choice and readiness to introduce innovative services to meet agencies' changing business needs. 
  • A GETS-related survey administered in March and April to agency IT leaders gauged their satisfaction with GETS relationship management, program communications, the Agency Management Committee forum and GETS overall.  Follow-up discussions with individual agencies will help determine appropriate improvement actions.

    In a separate survey, attendees of the GTA-hosted Partnership Summit 2016 gave positive reviews of the May event.  An overwhelming 96 percent rated the summit, which drew 190 attendees, extremely or very valuable.  Asked to name the most useful segment(s) of the summit, 65 percent of respondents pointed to the breakout sessions and the specific topic tracks covered there (IT procurement, IT portfolio management, strategic planning and IT security). 
  • GTA's Chief Operating Officer and the GTA-led Services Integration Initiative (SII) have been honored as part of the 2016 StateScoop 50 Awards. COO Dean Johnson was one of eight people nationwide to receive a State Leadership award, while the SII was among 11 projects to receive a State IT Program of the Year award. Dean has played a pivotal role in the establishment and evolution of the GETS program. And the service integration push is making it easier for Georgia agencies to access expanded and innovative IT services. Award recipients were selected by members of the state and local government IT community in nationwide voting via StateScoop's website.


  • Get ready for this year's edition of the Georgia Digital Government Summit, slated for September 29-30 at the Westin Buckhead, 3391 Peachtree Road, N.E., in Atlanta.  This annual event is for both IT and business leaders from state and local government.  You can register ($25 fee for public-sector employees) on the summit's webpage.  Topics will include digital government trends, emerging technologies, cyber security and more.  State and local government agencies will be recognized for their technology achievements, and leading technology companies will exhibit their products and services.

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