Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) Update

AnchorVolume 10, Issue No. 6                                                                                               Nov-Dec, 2018   

You earned this A, Georgia  
Exciting news: The state of Georgia earned a letter grade of A, the highest score possible, in the 2018 Digital States Survey. Not only that, Georgia also placed first in the nation in the category of Adaptive Leadership and ranked among the top five states in the Collaboration category.
That's outstanding - the kind of results you'd hope for. They reflect the hard work and dedication of technology professionals throughout state government, and I extend my congratulations and my most sincere appreciation for your part in it. This A is hard-earned. It's an exceptionally high standard to meet, and it reinforces Georgia's status as one of the nation's leading states in the use of technology to serve its citizens and improve government efficiency.
States are judged every two years by the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute focused on information technology policies and best practices in state and local governments. The center evaluates states' use of technology to improve service delivery, increase capacity, streamline operations, and reach policy goals. Each state is then assigned a letter grade based on quantifiable results.
What does a grade of A mean? Digital States criteria say it indicates a state that is "trending sharply upward. They show results across all survey categories. Modernization is used to realize operational efficiencies and strategic priorities. There is evidence of meaningful collaboration, and performance measures and metrics are widely adopted."
Georgia's A improves on the highly respectable A- the state received in the last survey in 2016. Georgia shares the A status this year with only four other states: Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah. If you look at what these states have accomplished with technology, you'll see we're in select company.
The category of Adaptive Leadership measures how well a state's technology investment strategies match the top policy priorities of the governor, the legislature, and the public. Again, well done to all state team members who helped Georgia earn such high marks in this category.
You can read more about the 2018 Digital States Survey on the Center for Digital Government's website.
Another honor for our state was announced last month when the Georgia Department of Human Services' Georgia Gateway project won a first-place NASCIO State IT Recognition Award. Read about that in an article below. My congratulations to DHS and to other Gateway contributors including the departments of Community Health, Public Health and Early Care and Learning.
Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Calvin Rhodes
State Chief Information Officer
GTA Executive Director
DHS wins coveted NASCIO award for second year in row    

NASCIO_DHS_awardFor its new consolidated system that determines eligibility for an array of public-assistance programs, Georgia's Department of Human Services (DHS) has won a first-place State IT Recognition Award from the National Association of State CIOs.
DHS earned the recognition for its work on Georgia Gateway - one of the largest, most expensive, and most technically challenging IT projects in the state's history. NASCIO announced the award (in the category of Cross-boundary Collaboration and Partnerships) at its annual conference in late October.
It's impressive to win these NASCIO awards anytime. Making it even more so, this marks the second consecutive year DHS has earned first-place honors. In 2017 they were awarded first for the Child Support Services mobile app, which allows non-custodial parents to make child support payments on their mobile phones.
Before Georgia Gateway launched in 2017, the state's previous system determined eligibility for three assistance programs. The new system does so for 10 programs, including Medicaid, PeachCare for KidsĀ®, Planning for Healthy Babies, SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF, WIC, and others. The programs are managed across four state agencies (DHS, and the departments of Community Health, Public Health, and Early Care and Learning).
Georgia Gateway features a centralized self-service, web-based portal for clients, saving them the need to submit the same information multiple times for different assistance programs. It also gives clients new self-service options. And for state workers, there's a single, web-based application with tools allowing greater efficiency. Extensive fraud-detection, security and regulatory compliance features are built in.
Georgia has built quite a record of NASCIO award finalists and first-place honorees. Last year, in addition to the DHS award mentioned, technology projects from the departments of Revenue and Transportation were named finalists. First-place awards were presented to GTA in 2016 for its web accessibility initiative and to the University System of Georgia (USG) in 2014 for its integrated learning platform. USG was a finalist in 2013 for an online information repository, as was the State Roads and Tollway Authority in 2012 for its I-85 Express Lanes.
NASCIO is the nation's leading resource for state CIOs and a prominent advocate for technology policy at all government levels.
Cyber Center adds new director, tenant and rooflines 
Take your eyes off the Georgia Cyber Center, and you may not recognize it when you look back again. The Nathan Deal Campus for Innovation, home to the center, is adding not just new silhouettes on the Augusta skyline, but also new leaders, new tenants and new opportunities. 
It was just a few months ago that Governor Deal and other leaders marked the opening of the center's Hull McKnight Building (left front in photo below). In the short time since, a twin structure has risen along the Augusta Riverwalk. That facility, the Shaffer MacCartney Building, is scheduled for completion in December. GTA continues overseeing construction and coordinating a growing group of partner organizations active in the Cyber Center.
Ga Cyber Ctr campus  
Other key Cyber Center developments:  
  • Col. Eric Toler, formerly commander of the National Security Agency - Georgia, was named center executive director. He started his new role October 1, working with other stakeholders to define and execute the center's programs and path.
  • Parsons Corporation has become the center's first private sector tenant. An engineering, construction, technical, and professional services firm, Parsons hopes to occupy space in the center as early as January 2019.
  • City of Augusta expects to cut the ribbon soon on a parking deck (at rear of photo) to serve the center.
  • Additional training opportunities (e.g., CCNA Cyber Ops, Blockchain Security) are being scheduled.
See details about these and other developments on the Cyber Center website,
Unisys readies to deliver server services beginning Jan. 1      

Server services in the GETS program cover quite a range of IT disciplines. Among them, data center services, backup and storage. Servers, of course, are included, whether they're in the state's North Atlanta Data Center or hosted elsewhere. Also under the server services umbrella, identity management and active directory management, which govern who has access to which tools and systems. Disaster recovery is on the list too.  
Soon-to-be server services provider Unisys will deliver all those elements beginning January 1, 2019, as responsibility transfers from current provider IBM. (The contract with IBM will have reached its agreed expiration.) Making such sweeping change while preserving continuity of service is possible only with thorough transition planning, and collaboration with agencies served. That's where Unisys finds itself today.  
In conjunction with GTA and GETS service integrator Capgemini, Unisys is deep into efforts to smoothly integrate its services into existing GETS processes, tools, and ways of doing business. Since August, Unisys has met monthly with GETS agency server specialists to ensure they know what to expect and where agency input will be needed. These server focal group meetings will continue straight through the transition period.
In mid-October Unisys met with individual agencies to talk through their respective storage and backup landscape. They built understanding of what each agency is doing today in these service areas, and accounted for any considerations unique to an agency. Unisys can next develop recommendations on how agencies could be best served by new backup and storage options coming soon.
And, at the annual GETS technology planning session last month, Unisys was on the agenda to discuss the identity management approach it will follow. That includes creation of a consolidated active directory and single sign-on capabilities. Single sign-on allows computer users to authenticate themselves once and then access multiple tools and systems. (It draws cheers from most crowds.)
Transition work will carry on over the next two months. And even after it commences providing server services January 1, Unisys will continue working to introduce additional offerings new to the GETS program. Among them, rapid server provisioning options and cloud broker services to help guide choices where cloud computing services may be most beneficial. 

  • As Hurricane Michael approached in October, GTA worked closely with its multi-sourcing service integrator Capgemini and service providers to prepare to support the agencies that rely on GETS services. GETS teams reached out to agencies with offices in areas likely to be affected and helped with plans ranging from system backups, to temporary shutdown of network and computing equipment, to mobilizing additional GETS Service Desk support to be ready if needed. The storm, as you know, left significant damage in the southwestern part of the state, and GETS teams were ready to respond to both the expected and the unexpected.
  • Procurement of managed security services for the GETS program is nearing the finish line. Once introduced, these offerings will enhance security services provided already to the GETS community. They will ensure access to specialized resources, advanced technology and dedicated support. Potential additions include: a centralized security operations center (SOC); a governance, risk management and compliance (GRCT) capability; and, a security incident and event management (SIEM) function. GTA hopes to award a contract soon.
  • Virtual desktop or VDI service is newly available in the GETS program. VDI doesn't suit every desktop computing scenario, but for certain circumstances, it offers real benefits. Where an agency needs the added security of housing sensitive data centrally in a data center, VDI allows keeping data off PCs and reducing the chances of data falling into the wrong hands with the loss or theft of computers. Plus, VDI allows centralized security controls and policy management for an entire community of PCs. It also allows standardization of computing experience across a diverse range of devices, from tablets to desktops, low-powered to power-packed. A whole population of computers can be centrally managed with VDI. NTT DATA provides this service within the GETS program.


  • Self-service can mean easier service, and it happens on your schedule, not someone else's. So a self-service path for network password resets and unlocks makes good sense. GETS computer users have that option via the new Xpress Password Reset tool. It provides a quick and easy way to reset their network password or unlock their account without having to call the GETS Service Desk for help. GETS services integrator Capgemini, working with GTA, deployed Xpress to GETS agencies recently. Look for Xpress Password reminders (i.e., posters and decals) in state offices soon.

          Xpess Password Reset tool

  • In October, State CIO and GTA Executive Director Calvin Rhodes received the CIO of the Year ORBIE (nonprofit/public sector), as awarded by the Georgia CIO Leadership Association. The ORBIE awards, now in their 20th year, are widely considered the nation's leading recognition program for technology executives. The association honored CIOs in eight categories for their leadership excellence, the business value created by technology innovation in their organization, and their engagement in the technology field and community. The Georgia CIO Leadership Association is a professional association for Georgia CIOs across public and private sectors. Other finalists in the nonprofit/public sector category included CIOs Gary Brantley (DeKalb County), Steven Ferguson (Technical College System of Georgia), Phil Ventimiglia (Georgia State University) and Sallie Wright (Fulton County).
  • GTA extends sincere thanks to the golfers and sponsoring companies that made the October 2018 GTA Charitable Contributions Golf Tournament another record-setting success. The seventh annual tournament held on the Columbus Day holiday at Stone Mountain Park drew just more than 100 golfers. That included participants from agencies such as DHS, DNR, DOE, DOL, SAO, and SOS, in addition to GTA. Support from them and from 15 generous sponsors, including the tournament's title sponsor NTT DATA, produced more than $23,000 (after expenses) for charities. The tournament once again benefited the State Charitable Contributions Program, which supports hundreds of charitable organizations providing services across Georgia. Photos of this year's golf teams are posted on the tournament website.

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