Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 9, Issue No. 1                                                                                               Jan-Feb, 2017  

A look ahead
at what got us here 
It's a favorite time of year for looking ahead, and we in Georgia's IT enterprise shouldn't miss the chance. Of course any forecast we offer can't help but reflect the path behind us that led to today. So, let's bend logic just a little and take a look ahead at what got us here.
Georgia's state agencies capitalized on technology in innovative ways in the past year, earning national recognition.
  • Georgia scored an A- grade in the 2016 Digital States Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government and measuring effective IT use. Only five states topped Georgia's mark.
  • The state placed first in the nation in the Enterprise Information Communications Technology category of the Digital States Survey. This honor came on the strength of the Georgia Department of Transportation's innovative IT use to monitor and manage road traffic conditions statewide.
  • A GTA-led accessibility initiative for the state's web portal and state websites won a first place award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. The work affords people with a range of disabilities online access to the state government services and information they need.
We're proud of the recognition and equally proud of other IT work statewide that shows investments in innovative technologies can and do power tangible benefits for Georgia and Georgians. Our successes point to vision, leadership, effective collaboration and skilled execution. We need to keep those valves open in Georgia's state government IT circle. We all know well that technology won't sit still, nor will the needs and expectations of constituents we all serve.
What does 2017 hold? Fair to expect challenges, and opportunities. And sometimes both rolled into one as with an ambitious cybersecurity initiative announced last week by Gov. Deal. It will have Georgia create a world-class, state-owned cyber range and training complex in Augusta, near the U.S. Army's cyber command headquarters at Fort Gordon.
With an emphasis on developing and exercising cybersecurity best practices, the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will feature physical facilities and virtual opportunities to build cyber capabilities. (See details in a news release from the Governor's Office.) Not only will it take a multi-agency collaboration to bring it to life, the center will also play host to public and private sector partnerships to tackle cyber challenges. Truly a host of participants, crisscrossing all sorts of organizational lines. It's a big undertaking, but past successes working together leave me confident we will all rise to the occasion here again.
We're succeeding in Georgia through effective, innovative use of IT. (See examples in this newsletter.) Whether it's strengthening cybersecurity, procuring IT services that best meet agencies' needs, refining web strategy, or managing large IT investments, we will continue to make strides. You have my assurance GTA is committed to sustaining and strengthening partnerships with your agencies to keep the momentum.
Thank you for your ongoing support.

Calvin Rhodes
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director
Promoting success of state's largest IT projects   
When you have the most on the line, it's then you take extra pains to ensure things go right. That motivates a policy specifying new top-level management of the state's large, multifaceted and lengthy IT projects.

Initiated by the Governor's Office and enacted by GTA at the start of 2017, the Large IT Project Executive Decision-Making Board policy mobilizes a board to help manage high-impact, high-dollar and high-complexity projects. Projects with budgeted expense of $10 million or more over a five-year period become subject to the board's management.
Commissioners of Georgia's Department of Administrative Services and the Office of Planning and Budget sit on the board along with GTA's executive director. Business leaders from the agency directing a particular project serve as additional board members. The new board carries project decision-making authority.

Applicable to executive branch agencies, the new policy will see the board activated to support expansive efforts -- projects like the Department of Human Services-led Integrated Eligibility System (IES), were it just starting today. The new board will have a hand in project activities ranging from shaping a budget request, to developing a request for qualified contractors and request for proposal, to awarding contracts. The board will also assess project management office (PMO) needs for a project.

A second new policy -- Information Security Controls -- also took effect at the start of 2017. It establishes security accountability among the participants (agencies, vendors and integrators) in a shared services IT environment. Policy details for the security controls and the large IT project executive board policies will soon be added to the GTA website.    
New broadband, voice service options added to GETS  
State agencies operate in out-of-the-way Georgia places -- could be a state park office at the Okefenokee Swamp, a Department of Corrections detention center well off the beaten track, or a small DFCS office or sheriff's department in rural Georgia. They may be out-of-the-way, but they're not out of luck when it comes to internet service options.
The GETS IT services program administered by GTA moved to serve these remote operations (and others) when it added broadband aggregation service to its offerings in November. Managed by AT&T, this service provides connectivity to the internet for small offices or locations outside metro areas. It allows customers to build networks using a variety of data transport services available from a range of service providers. That could mean using AT&T broadband service, or where needed using a partner provider that offers service to the customer's location.
The providers may not be the familiar ones from larger markets. They vary from one area of the state to another, as does the quality of service they provide. Still, there's value in those services, and now GETS brings more choices of high-speed broadband connections, with fewer burdens attached for agencies. No need for customers to manage contracts with multiple providers, or coordinate ordering and installation of many different services, or wrestle a stack of invoices. It can all be centralized, including help desk support.
Broadband aggregation is not a cure-all, given the service quality variation. Customers will want to weigh that against just how critical network performance and reliability are to their business. AT&T would help state agencies and entities make those considerations. That said, the new service shows the GETS program acting to meet IT needs not just in urban headquarters or main offices, but right on out to all reaches of the state where agencies do business. That means flexibility to meet a broader range of needs.
Remember too, GETS has added to its voice service options with the recent introduction of Hosted Voice Solution service. HVS is AT&T's voice over IP (VoIP) offering. Appetites for traditional voice services (e.g., Centrex, key systems, PBX) are changing in favor of VoIP and similar systems. Over the next several years the GETS program will migrate voice customers to the HVS.
Agencies interested in exploring HVS now are encouraged to engage AT&T to help weigh network considerations. Things like network capacity, cabling and circuits have to be accounted for to enable VoIP. That work doesn't happen overnight, so planning ahead is especially important. Contact your Agency Relationship Manager (ARM) who can put you in touch with the right AT&T resources.
Make your digital presence shine, and delight constituents 

Your agency has its website. Maybe multiple sites. It might have social media presence too. And likely online applications used to accomplish your work. All these pieces tie in to the way you deliver services and form a sort of digital ecosystem.
It's not exactly an electronic estuary or grassland, but your agency's digital presence is a community of interacting parts and their environment. And it's all fueled by content (i.e., the information you're sharing). At a mid-November GOVTalks conference hosted by GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team, agencies were encouraged to weigh those considerations carefully to get real dividends from digital.

Who is the community served digitally? Could be internal (an agency itself or fellow agencies) and/or external (citizens and stakeholders). While accommodating both, the ecosystem should serve the external community first and foremost.
And how about environmental factors? They include your digital channels like web, social media and applications, as well as the tools used to access them. Those are tools like PCs, tablets, smartphones, wearable technology, browser screens in cars, and now screenless devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Your agency's content should flow smoothly across channels and to all devices.
Then there are the interactions among digital channels and the processes agencies use to get things done for those they serve. Tight alignment is crucial so customers get the services and information they're after. Presenting the right content (i.e., the stuff citizens want) the right way helps ensure a positive digital experience.
GeorgiaGov Interactive, managers of the state's web portal, summarized with several digital ecosystem ideals, including: 1) design with citizens top of mind, 2) be device-agnostic, and 3) keep content simple.
This edition of GOVTalks drew a record number of registrants.  If you missed it, see all GOVTalks presentations, videos and more from the fall 2016 session on the GeorgiaGov Interactive team's website. And, watch for details of a planned spring 2017 installment focused on content and data strategy.

  • The newly published Annual State IT Report from GTA for 2016 includes focus on cybersecurity efforts to protect Georgia government against cyber threats. The report also summarizes ways the state's IT investments produced tangible benefits for Georgians in the past year. Other priority work outlined includes: aligning state agencies' business objectives with best-suited technologies for achieving goals; advancing enterprise policies for effective IT use; and, tuning the state's web portal to ensure access for Georgians with a range of disabilities. See report details on the GTA website.


  • State and local government agencies are encouraged to submit projects for the GTA-sponsored Georgia Technology Innovation Showcase. For the sixth consecutive year, the showcase will recognize agencies for innovative use of technology allowing them to operate efficiently and better serve constituents. Submissions are accepted through March 10, 2017. See details and an online submission form on the GTA website. Projects selected for showcase recognition will be honored at the Georgia Digital Government Summit in Atlanta later this year. Honorees will be referenced in the state of Georgia's Annual State IT Report, and they will be considered for submission to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) for its 2017 State IT Recognition Awards, the Technology Association of Georgia's Excalibur Awards, and others.
  • Ease of ordering technology services online through GTA will improve with planned upgrades in 2017 to the GETS Products and Services Catalog. A more web-like shopping experience will be enabled by changes targeted for early February. Improvements will include fuller pricing details, more detailed service descriptions across all offerings and greater automation of requests. Expect more news and preparations in January, especially for personnel in your agency authorized to order GETS services. Plans include an additional GETS Radio Show informational webinar later this month to explore the upgrade.
  • As part of an ongoing re-procurement of GETS infrastructure services, GTA has issued a request for proposal for server services. This marks the third of three RFPs published under the infrastructure services rebid. Responses to the server RFP are expected by February.  Evaluation of responses and down-selection of service providers for two earlier RFPs (1. mainframe and print-to-mail services, and 2. end user computing services) are proceeding. All three RFPs address services now contracted through IBM under an agreement running through June 2017. To ensure the procurement leads to services that best meet agencies' evolving business needs, GETS agencies continue close collaboration with GTA on the effort.
  • GTA announces its sixth annual Technology Summit, scheduled for Monday, May 15th. The summit is directed toward technology and business leaders from Georgia's state government agencies and this year will carry added emphasis on strategy.  You can expect market-leading service providers to discuss state-of-the-art use cases and solutions. As in years past the full-day event will be held at the well-liked Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Midtown Atlanta. It will once again be offered at no charge for Georgia public sector staff. Stay tuned for more details, including registration information.

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