Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 9, Issue No. 3                                                                                               May-Jun, 2017  

Not to skip ahead, but can we talk about 2025?   
Forecasting the state's technology needs and how to meet them several years out is no easy trick, especially with such a fast-changing IT landscape. But it's safe to bet technology will continue to change the way we operate, in government just as in society. So we plan today to expand our readiness for tomorrow.
That's the rationale behind our Georgia Enterprise IT Strategic Plan 2025 soon to be made available. In it we anticipate what the future looks like and how state government should prepare to capitalize on technology innovations. We establish a technology direction for the state's IT enterprise -- more detailed for the near-term, then more general for the longer view.
Those long-term emphases include:
  • Ensuring cybersecurity for Georgia agencies, citizens and businesses
  • Managing a growing pool of data to support state decision makers
  • Capitalizing on proven technologies to improve interaction between state agencies and their constituents
  • Evolving the state's portfolio of shared technology services to ensure agency access to the best services at competitive prices
  • Partnering with the private sector to bring innovative technology to bear on state business needs 
What's in this for you? Well, Georgia's successful use of technology hinges on coordination across agencies and entities. When we pull in the same direction, we get the most out of the tug. So using the 2025 plan as a guidepost, agency technology and business leaders can then steer technology planning at the agency level to align with the broader enterprise approach. 
GTA is tasked with creating the enterprise strategic plan, and we do it only with your generous help. We follow a planning cycle that draws your input at multiple steps along the way, and one of those moments is just ahead. On May 15th we will host an annual Technology Summit for Georgia government agencies and entities. (Read about it in an article below.) We'll share information with you there about the digital innovations that are transforming government. And, we'll be listening carefully to what participants say are their pressing business needs and how technology can help provide solutions.
Please watch the GTA website for news of the release of the 2025 plan. 
Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Calvin Rhodes
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director
Early progress on cyber center puts builder, architect in place  

Earlier this year when Gov. Deal unveiled plans to create a Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, he announced an aggressive timeline for its opening. So, with GTA overseeing construction, and a host of partners (state, federal and local, plus private sector) contributing to center programs, the teams are out of the gates and running with preparations.

The Governor announced $50 million in funding to establish the center. The state has since completed purchase of a 16-acre property in Augusta to serve as the center's home. 
Jones Lang LaSalle is the project manager for construction. M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. has been selected as the architect for the project. And, New South Construction has been selected as construction manager/general contractor.
CyberCtr main entrance rendering
The planned Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center is to open in July 2018 in Augusta near Ft. Gordon and the U.S. Army Cyber Command.

The center will be a state-owned facility promoting advanced cybersecurity technology for private and public organizations through unique education, training, research, and practical applications. It will be housed in a 150,000-square-foot facility to be built near Fort Gordon in Augusta. (Fort Gordon is home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command and Cyber Center of Excellence, and the National Security Agency.)
Key elements of the cyber center will include:
  • Cybersecurity training opportunities, both on-site and virtual, for information security professionals
  • A cyber range where testing of cyber defenses and skills can be performed live in a safe, secure setting.
  • A Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) cyber crime lab
  • Cybersecurity education programs via the state's universities and technical colleges
  • Workforce development to meet needs today and in the future
  • Economic development opportunities via incubator space for cybersecurity start-ups
Center partners not already mentioned above include Augusta University Cyber Institute, City of Augusta, Augusta Economic Development, University System of Georgia, Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Department of Education, Georgia National Guard and private sector participants
TechSummit2017Peer into dark web at May 15th technology summit 

We read about hacks and breaches almost daily - attacks that compromise millions of credentials, cost millions of dollars, and sometimes nearly bring the internet to a halt. How do cyber-criminals do it?
A look inside the world of organized cybercrime is in store for participants at the GTA-hosted Technology Summit, Monday, May 15th. In a keynote speech, cyber crime and cyber terrorism expert Etay Maor of IBM will explore cyber attack modes, how criminals gather intel, dark web sites where malware is bought and sold, and more.

Cybersecurity is one of four topic tracks planned for the 2017 summit, each track focused on an aspect of the theme, Disruptive Technology -- A Business Opportunity. Other tracks include: business leadership for successful change, your agency's digital presence, and IT services for Georgia government. All summit attendees will come together for shared keynote presentations.

Promoting positive outcomes from disruptive technology for agencies is at the heart of this year's event, the sixth annual. It will challenge attendees to embrace digital innovation that is transforming government, and harness the change it brings to benefit their agencies and the Georgians they serve.

The summit is once again directed toward technology and business leaders from Georgia's state government agencies.  Market-leading service providers will discuss state-of-the-art use cases and solutions, and will be joined by GTA leaders in each of the subject areas described above. The full-day event will be held at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Midtown Atlanta. It will be offered at no charge for Georgia public sector staff.

New conversational interface for state's portal   

In the world of computers, tablets and smartphones, a conversational interface can free you from the screen. No need for typing or clicking. No pointing or scrolling. You simply ask for information. Verbally. We can ask Apple's Siri to locate the nearest barbecue joint or have Microsoft's Cortana tell us, why did Pluto get downgraded to dwarf planet.
A pilot project to be launched this summer will allow anyone with an Amazon Echo device to ask Alexa for information from the state's site. Users could ask how to order a Georgia birth certificate, how to register for a fishing license or where to find the closest Driver Services location. The effort led by GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team and partner Acquia Labs will make getting answers as simple as, "Alexa, ask GeorgiaGov."
The new conversational way for Georgians to interact with state government makes sense, and not just because voice recognition tools are more and more reliable. Users don't have to understand how content is organized on a website or sink time into looking for information. Conversational interfaces also align with GeorgiaGov's commitment to accessibility, creating another path to information for users with vision impairments or mobility limitations.
Though the pilot focuses on the flagship website, the conversational interface could be extended eventually to agencies and sites all across the state's web platform. It puts state government information within earshot of those who need it, and in a way they will appreciate.
G eorgiaGov Interactive team members will discuss conversational interfaces and how agencies can get ready to capitalize on them as part of the GOVTalks track at the GTA-hosted Technology Summit upcoming May 15th. See summit details in a separate article in this newsletter . 
Security responsibility: Whose is it in shared services set-up? 
The Information Security Controls policy enacted by GTA in 2017 establishes security accountability among the participants (agencies, vendors and integrators) in a shared services IT environment used by state of Georgia entities.
GTA has now implemented a related new standard (generously vetted by several Georgia agencies). It stipulates that each state of Georgia agency operating within a shared services IT environment is ultimately responsible for ensuring applicable National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST 800-53 (rev. 4)] security controls are put in place and operated effectively. Unique security responsibilities are assigned for each IT application or system in such environments, including the state's North Atlanta Data Center.
As external or third-party hosting, management or maintenance of IT tools become increasingly commonplace, plainly establishing where security responsibilities lie becomes critical. It promotes accountability, reduces risk and helps mature security.
An affected agency would coordinate security responsibilities (some having a unique owner, some shared) with its service providers and integrators in shared services settings. That would apply to concerns ranging from access control to ID authentication to physical security and more.
See policy and standard details for information security controls on the GTA website . 

  • State agency websites on the platform -- the state's web portal -- are gaining added security. As changes to an encrypted protocol (i.e., an https instead of http site designation), risk of unauthorized manipulation of site users' data is lowered. The shift creates compliance with the federal government's Https-Only Standard, and in some cases promotes improved website performance. GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team are performing the work as part of site hosting and support.
  • Kendra Skeene of GTA's GeorgiaGov Interactive team has been named to StateScoop's list of Top Women in Technology for 2017. She is one of an impressive group from state and local governments nationwide recognized for their contributions to improving government and the lives of those served.

    As a part of the GeorgiaGov Interactive team (the digital services arm for Georgia's web portal), Kendra is Director of Product and leads a team that manages the Drupal-based web publishing platform. With the digital services strategic team she has played a central role in implementing forward-looking initiatives. They include responsive design (web display optimization regardless of device type used), secure browsing and delivery performance. Recently she led an award-winning initiative promoting accessibility of state websites for people with a range of disabilities. Kendra has actively promoted Georgia's successes, writing for and speaking to a number of organizations. She encourages others to learn from the GeorgiaGov Interactive team's example and improve their own digital presence.  
  • A new Vulnerability Scanning Service (VSS) is now available through the GETS IT services program. It offers full-service agencies visibility into risks that could threaten their computer systems (both on-premise and cloud) and networks. Delivered via AT&T, VSS can scan and report on security posture of networks and systems, servers that house sensitive data, and (as an optional feature) even web applications to detect coding vulnerabilities. Overall, an agency customer gains a fuller view of its risk levels to help eliminate threats and meet compliance requirements. With the service in place, agencies would interact with a VSS portal over the internet to perform administrative functions, manage scans, review reports on vulnerabilities and track remediation efforts. VSS also provides customers access to security professionals who would help set up the service, translate report data and identify vulnerability remediation steps.
  • The re-procurement of infrastructure services continues on schedule for the GETS shared IT services program. Three component requests for proposals (RFPs) have been published: mainframe/print-to-mail services, end user computing services and server services. All three address services now provided through IBM under an agreement approaching its contracted expiration in the months ahead. The re-procurement continues to benefit from close collaboration among GTA and agencies served by the GETS program.

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