Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 8, Issue No. 6                                                                                               Nov-Dec, 2016 

Interstate sharing is route to multi-state benefits
Earlier this year I spoke at a conference along with a panel of state CIOs.  As we discussed challenges faced by state government IT chiefs, you could hear the conviction as tales were told of the thorny issues we all share.  Things like managing IT procurements with enough speed to get out of the gates before technology opportunities race away.  Or staying on top of technology options that are expanding exponentially.
Just like other states, Georgia is challenged to deliver the IT services that best enable the business of state government.  Doing that consistently and timely, while also maintaining a reliable and secure IT enterprise -- it's no easy trick.
But what I could report as a panelist, and what you may've heard me say elsewhere, is that in Georgia we've put key pieces in place to succeed.  We've built a flexible IT shared services delivery platform.  And we continue to refine our model so we can do even more with technology to better equip state agencies to serve Georgia citizens.
Somewhere in those comments, my fellow panelist Ron Baldwin, Montana CIO, heard something that whet his appetite.  He wanted to know if his state might benefit from Georgia's experience, and he wanted to talk with the team behind our IT services model.  In late October GTA was pleased to host Ron and several of his team in Atlanta for informal discussion of shared challenges -- IT service delivery challenges common across the nation, whether in the Deep South or Big Sky Country.
It was our pleasure to share information and answer questions on everything from how our state IT enterprise is structured, to our GETS IT services program, to our recent GETS procurements.  It's not solely a GTA story we told; it's really a GETS community story.  A Georgia story.  Agencies have parts.  Service providers have parts.  Our multisourcing service integrator has a part.  Along with GTA leaders, I was privileged to describe what we've achieved -- all of us together.
The Montana delegation returned west with new ideas to consider, and maybe new questions.  As their hosts, we in GTA benefited from the chance to take stock of the positive momentum evident in the state of Georgia's IT enterprise.  (See examples of the evidence throughout this newsletter.)  That's momentum we've built in partnership with all of you in the GETS community and beyond.
States are talking to each other about their approaches to IT services, and Georgia is right in there in the discussion.  I thought you'd want to know.  
Thank you for your ongoing support.

Calvin Rhodes
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director
Georgia scores high for IT use; GDOT wins special distinction  
Twice in a row now, the state has earned a high grade of A- in the biannual Digital States Survey. In 2016 only five states scored higher in the Center for Digital Government's evaluation of all 50 states' efforts to improve service delivery, increase capacity and achieve policy goals via digital technologies.
In results announced this fall, Georgia also placed first nationally in the Enterprise Information Communications and Technology category. That came on the strength of innovative work by the Georgia Department of Transportation to manage traffic conditions throughout the state. (See below.)
The second consecutive A- for Georgia confirms it as a leader in effective use of technology. And the DOT project stands tall as an example of the outstanding work going on throughout Georgia state government that netted the state its high grade.
GDOT puts technology on (and in) the roads
GDOT's innovative approach to managing the state's transportation challenges merges multiple communications technologies. Using its WebEOC (Emergency Operations Center) application, it provides real-time information to support daily operations and enable quick action in emergencies (e.g., accidents, severe weather). GDOT's Integrated Digital Enhanced Network radio system ensures varied government agencies - state, local and federal - can talk to each other for a coordinated response. Plus, the department uses transportation telematics to identify and assess road hazards, including road temperatures, to help detect when snow or ice is present.
GDOT also makes traffic information readily available to the public through technology tools. Dialing 511 on a mobile phone allows you to report traffic problems. GDOT's 511 Navigator website gives you access to real-time information to help plan driving routes. It features a GIS map of the state with icons to access traffic cameras and message signs over major roads. Users can designate favorite cameras for quick access.
GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry points to technology as the "linchpin" of the department's strategy. This work, led by GDOT CIO Jeff Hill and his team, shows plainly how effective IT use enables improved government services.
The Center for Digital Government initiated its survey 19 years ago. Full 2016 survey results are available online. Two years ago Georgia earned an A-, and it also ranked among the top five states in the nation in 2014 for its use of technology in support of health and human services.
National IT award for Georgia's web accessibility initiative 
An effort to ensure the state's websites are accessible to people with a range of disabilities has been honored with a first place award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).
Led by GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team, the work produced accessibility enhancements to the state's enterprise web platform and the 78 state websites hosted there. Collaborating with GeorgiaGov Interactive were the state's ADA Coordinator's Office and the AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center at Georgia Tech. The initiative placed first in the Digital Government: Government to Citizen category in NASCIO's State IT Recognition Awards.
The teams introduced greater color contrast and font legibility for state websites, and made it easier to access online content using assistive tools, such as screen readers. They took steps to ensure the web portal meets the special needs of constituents with disabilities affecting not just vision, but also hearing, motion and cognition. Secured through research, planning, testing and code enhancement, the collected improvements earned compliance with widely recognized standards for online accessibility.
Commenting on the initiative, Gov. Nathan Deal said, "Making the state's online resources accessible to all Georgians, especially individuals with disabilities, is a critical part of our commitment to eliminating barriers to government services. I want to thank the business managers and technology professionals throughout the state government for their commitment to making services easier to access and more responsive to the needs of citizens. Their work is truly making a positive difference in the lives of others."
Government agencies turn increasingly to online self-service to provide a range of mission-critical services. The enhanced web accessibility for benefits all state agencies that are part of the state's enterprise web platform. Georgia will continue to see benefits from being a leader in this aspect of its technology work.
GeorgiaGov Interactive director Nikhil Deshpande of GTA accepted the award for the state at NASCIO's national conference this fall. A short video tells more about the initiative.
NASCIO is the nation's leading resource for state CIOs and a prominent advocate for technology policy at all government levels.
Disciplined approach ensures continued GETS DR progress  

Building disaster recovery capability takes sustained commitment. Leave DR untended long at all, and weeds can grow up and crowd out your previous good work.
It's that recognition that keeps GETS disaster recovery teams focused. In early October they completed their latest DR exercise, continuing a string of annual tests for the GETS enterprise stretching back to 2010.
Conducted at an IBM facility in Boulder, Colorado, this year's event built on all lessons from previous tests and pushed GETS DR capabilities further still. In several regards, it qualified as the most ambitious exercise yet conducted.
This year 10 GETS agencies tested -- the most ever for any single exercise. That participation level shows agencies' commitment to DR. On the service provider side, participants included some familiar faces and some new.  IBM and AT&T continued their active involvement, and GETS multisourcing service integrator Capgemini stepped in to manage the overall event.  The event's success hinges on effective collaboration, so all participants had to gel as a team quickly and they did.
Since the outset of the GETS program and through a host of changes in the GETS IT environment, high priority has been placed on disaster recovery development.  As the environment changes, DR preparation has to change with it. The 2016 exercise reflected that, providing the latest opportunity to test recovery readiness for today's hardware, network, applications and systems, in a multi-provider environment. 
  • Is your agency doing all it could to engage customers and citizens digitally? Websites and web apps are only part of the story. More and more, folks expect a complete digital experience from government. You have to consider your full digital ecosystem. If that leaves you less sure you're doing what you should, register for the GOVTalks conference planned for November 16th. Presented by GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team, this edition of GOVTalks keys on digital strategy that contributes to a positive digital experience for your customers. There will also be hands-on sessions to help you with content strategy and creation for your web presence. 
  • Have you talked to EVA?  EVA is the virtual assistant that provides another way to get answers for those who would call the GETS Service Desk.  Accessible from the GETS Portal landing page, EVA is ready to assist with common needs related to GETS computing, phone and network services.  Need help with changing your GETS Office 365 email password, for instance?  Just open a session with EVA and type, "How do I reset my Office 365 email password?"  EVA will give step-by-step instructions to register for and use the automated password reset tool.  With passwords and other issues, you may find EVA can save you a call to the service desk and put you back in business in a hurry.  A recent GETS Radio Show web conference explored what users can expect from EVA and encouraged people to try the virtual assistant.  It's ready to assist on a wide range of issues, and as more questions flow in, EVA becomes equipped to answer even more varied concerns.
  • Qualified service providers are responding to a GTA-issued request for proposal (RFP) for mainframe and print-to-mail services. Evaluation of proposals received will proceed in November. An RFP for end user computing services (EUC) has also been issued to providers, with responses expected by the start of December.  A third RFP, this one for server services, has been published in draft, and service provider feedback is expected through mid-November.  All three RFPs are part of ongoing re-procurement of GETS infrastructure services now contracted through IBM under an agreement running through June 2017.  GETS agencies continue close collaboration with GTA on the procurement, helping ensure it leads to service offerings that best meet agencies' evolving business needs.

  • GTA's Nikhil Deshpande has been named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle's 40 Under 40 list for 2016.  The Business Chronicle describes it as a collection of young movers and shakers making their mark on Atlanta business across all industries.  Nikhil is director of GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team, managers of the state's web portal ( and enterprise web platform.  The platform supports 78 state websites.  Just this year Nikhil and the GeorgiaGov Interactive team won national recognition for an accessibility initiative to make accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.  (See article above.)
  • How are state government CIOs adapting to the trend of being looked to as a broker of shared services, monitoring a technology services marketplace that presents dizzying numbers of options?  Or the challenges of enterprise data management and security -- how are technology chiefs responding?  The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) polls member CIOs on such topics each year to find out.  Results are published in the NASCIO State CIO Survey.  In the 2016 edition, "The Adaptable State CIO," read their perspectives on topics like cloud strategies, mobility, procurement and more.
  • Thanks to the 94 golfers and 16 sponsors who participated, the fifth annual GTA Charitable Contributions Golf Tournament raised nearly $18,000.  Held October 10th at Stone Mountain Park, this year's tournament again benefited the State Charitable Contributions Program (SCCP)The 1,350 organizations encompassed under SCCP help make a difference with health, education, environmental and human services in our communities and around the world.

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