After a while you’re less surprised by surprises. I bet you’ve experienced that since March. Unexpected challenges have come one after another. Sometimes in twos or threes. Georgia’s state and local governments have mobilized to respond to novel needs. Not just health services, public safety, emergency management, or labor. It runs the gamut.
In so many ways, we’ve seen agencies and entities innovate and collaborate and re-situate to fulfill their missions
missions expanded and made more urgent by unprecedented circumstances. And the common thread to responses is a commitment from Georgia public employees to serve, now in new ways.
At GTA we’ve been privileged to contribute (and yes, sometimes stretched). A batch of new needs came almost immediately upon Gov. Kemp’s March 12 guidance to state agencies to telework wherever feasible. A jump in number of teleworkers called for dramatically increased capacity for SSL VPN secure remote access to the state network. With prompt action from AT&T, we were able to bring that capacity online quickly. It was ready for use at the start of the first week the state’s telework model took flight.
New telework routines contributed to high call volumes to the GETS Service Desk serving the state’s IT enterprise. At times in those first several telework weeks, volumes doubled the norm. Our service desk provider Capgemini mobilized additional agents to take calls. They refined guidance to address common concerns (e.g., SSL VPN and password resets) and used varied paths to get that instruction circulated. That ambitious work continues.
We worked with NTT DATA to manage spiked demand for laptop computers (hardly unique to state government). We identified all readily available GETS inventory and then coordinated with the Governor’s Office to prioritize requests for those PCs. Supply of laptops has since been hard to come by, for everybody, but we continue to explore ways to ensure Georgia government has a good a spot in the queue when supply lines open up again.
Through our GETS service provider Atos, we connected executive branch agencies with new online security awareness training at the start of April addressing a raft of new cyber threats that arose on the heels of COVID-19. Our print and mail services provider Xerox has safely met state agencies’ needs, even while making contingency plans were access to state offices to have been interrupted.
This sampling hints that GTA service provider partners have been critical to meeting fast-evolving IT needs. They have, and we owe them thanks. Many of you at state agencies have witnessed their contributions directly. Maybe it’s Unisys helping bring a needed server into service fast. Maybe it’s benefit from one of the efforts mentioned above. Those providers know, and we at GTA know, state agencies have faced extraordinary needs. Agencies have answered in extraordinary ways (see some examples below). We’ve been pleased to partner with you.
Surprises have become commonplace. And more lie ahead. One thing hasn’t surprised me – the way Georgia government teams (and partners) have rallied to tackle each new need. It reflects well on you. At GTA, I often thank our teams for their public service. I’d like to express appreciation to you for yours as well. I say so as a fellow public servant myself and as a Georgian.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director