GTA logo 2019 horizontal green

Update newsletter

Nov-Dec 2023 | Vol. 15, Issue 6

State CIO's column

AI summit will help Georgia saddle up, get ready to ride

How far along we are depends a bit on who you ask and how you define it. But AI is either already here or bearing down on us fast, and it's lobbing big blobs of change our way. Now, we could run for cover. Or more sensibly, we can figure how to harness its potential.

Government is grappling with its relationship with artificial intelligence, especially generative AI. Both from a policy-setting angle, as well as what constitutes appropriate and effective usage by government. Let's not wait in Georgia for AI to happen to us. Let's guide how it happens, and how it promotes the needs of Georgians we serve.

We have a golden opportunity coming up to grab the reins, together, and map an informed, strategic approach to AI in Georgia government. GTA is pleased to partner with e.Republic and Government Technology media to present the Georgia Emerging Technology Summit: AI, December 12, at the W Atlanta Downtown hotel. We need business and IT leaders across state and local government to be at the table for this critical discussion. I hope you'll be one of those participants.


You can expect some "wow" moments -- examples of aspirational applications of AI that feel nearly like science fiction. Those can inspire new vision of what's possible. But we'll also highlight what's accessible and achievable today with AI by showcasing real use cases in government. Use cases from your peers that could serve as models for how your agency capitalizes on AI.

It won't stop with thought-provoking examples. We and our e.Republic partners are assembling experts from the industry, from the private sector and from government for a truly multi-dimensional discussion. AI considerations to be explored include:

  • Policy-setting
  • Ethics and accountability
  • Data management and security
  • AI workforce development
  • Citizen engagement and education
  • AI procurement and vendor relations


Registration for this full-day session is open via the link above. There's no fee to attend for Georgia public-sector employees. And don't think of this as an IT conference. Sure, some of the talk may turn a bit technical. Largely though, this is geared toward all of us who are interested in better serving our constituents.


Yes, it comes in a busy final month of the year. But this summit is an opportunity we shouldn't miss. You can tell I'm excited about it. I'm excited by the prospects of AI to improve government operations and services. I'm excited by the chance to collaborate with you and your organizations to ensure AI delivers all the benefits it can to Georgia. Exciting times. See you December 12.

Shawnzia Thomas

State Chief Information Officer

GTA Executive Director

Also in this issue:

State's gen AI policy promotes informed usage

Broadband requires more than just infrastructure

Briefly … AI Officer named; CTO leaves GTA; Cloud training; Ga. in NASCIO; GTA Charity Golf

Quick Links

State's generative AI policy emphasizes informed usage

If ever there was need to approach transformative technology with deliberation, it’s true of generative artificial intelligence. GTA’s Enterprise Governance and Planning group aims to help through broad guidance for adoption of "gen AI" across Georgia government.


A policy newly published by GTA stipulates that agencies submit for review all software, applications, tools and services that involve generative AI for business operations prior to procurement. It further directs agencies to follow established state standards when implementing AI.


Anticipating that generative AI may soon become a common element of business operations, this policy aims to promote acceptable use of AI tools. It is also intended to minimize misuse, unethical outcomes, potential biases, and information security breaches. Of particular interest is appropriate gen AI tool usage when sensitive state data is involved.


More specific standards (or tactical measures) are expected to be published soon by GTA in support of the enterprise gen AI policy.


Generative AI is defined here as tools or systems that can create new original content (e.g., images, text, music) based on patterns and examples drawn from existing data.

Broadband expansion is built

on more than new infrastructure

There's broadband service access, and then there's readiness to use it. Without both, broadband expansion efforts fall short.

Through the Let's Connect Georgia initiative, GTA and partner organizations work to ensure all Georgians have the tools and skills to capitalize on broadband access. That readiness is the theme of a GTA-hosted Statewide Digital Connectivity Symposium planned for November 14 at the Georgia International Convention Center near the Atlanta airport. Online registration is open via the link above, and there is no fee to attend.

The event brings together Georgia broadband expansion leaders, civic officials, community champions and residents for discussion of strategies to ensure fair access to digital resources and opportunities. The larger goal is to shape a roadmap to a more connected Georgia.

Themes of that digital access discussion are also outlined in the Georgia Digital Connectivity Plan published by GTA this month. The plan proposes steps to address the digital divide in Georgia -- things like skills training, affordable service plans and availability of broadband-ready devices. (Public comment on the plan is invited via GTA’s website.)


In a related development in early November, GTA released a second volume of the state’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program Initial Proposal. This volume includes addition of description of the grant process, scoring criteria, and federal requirements for grant recipients. (Public comment is invited through December 1.)


Volume 1 of Georgia's BEAD Initial Proposal profiled existing broadband funding in the state, identified unserved and under-served locations, and pointed out community anchor institutions.


BEAD features a $42.5B federal investment in broadband expansion nationwide, and Georgia is set to receive $1.3B to help bring reliable new service to many thousands of unserved locations across the state.

Briefly ...
  • GTA's Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande has added another dimension to his title and his work. Nikhil is now also the state's chief AI officer, charged with guiding the state's responsible and ethical implementation of artificial intelligence. He will lead efforts to ensure successful AI outcomes in state government, harnessing AI's powerful potential to solve problems and managing its risks. Nikhil's initial emphasis is on establishing AI standards and guidelines that together form a playbook for agencies' effective use of AI to improve government operations and services. That will be done with input from agencies, the Governor's Office and other stakeholders. Generative AI expressed through chatbots has already been an emphasis for Nikhil and GTA's Digital Services Georgia team in recent years.

  • In his two years with GTA, former Chief Technology Officer and GTA Deputy Executive Officer Dmitry Kagansky made significant contributions to transformative technology efforts. He led the cloud-first campaign to migrate state systems to the cloud. In the initial phase of that work, more than 100 servers were migrated to cloud environments, and plans are in motion to make additional cloud platforms available to state agencies. Dmitry also championed cloud training for agency IT staff, notably establishing a GTA partnership with the Technical College System of Georgia providing cloud training courses via TCSG. GTA thanks Dmitry for his leadership and wishes him success in his next efforts.

  • State agency IT professionals continue to hit the books in cloud-related training courses this fall at Gwinnett Technical College. They're building cloud computing knowledge to help their agencies thrive in cloud environments. The fall courses have focused on system operations (SysOps) and developer skills for Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the cloud platforms agencies are using. These courses are the most recent presented through a GTA partnership with the Technical College System of Georgia. GTA covers tuition costs, plus the cost of a related professional certification exam for students who choose to take it. Additional courses are being planned for the next semester, which begins in January 2024. For information about the GTA /TCSG program, email GTA's Deborah Sykes.

  • State CIO and GTA Executive Director Shawnzia Thomas continues to serve in a leadership role in the National Association of State CIOs. She is among the directors on the NASCIO Executive Committee. Shawnzia's work in NASCIO reflects her advocacy of that organization as an invaluable resource for state government IT leaders and a forum for exchange of ideas about best use of technology to serve state needs.

Banner gta pillars black
Facebook  Twitter