Mr. Moore is Chief Information Officer for the state of Georgia and Executive Director of the Georgia Technology Authority.
We have taken a few punches recently from some folks in the media who do not understand the goal of our IT transformation or the necessary, well-planned steps we must take to achieve it.
We are accomplishing exactly what we set out to do: Move the state’s IT operations out of their “horse and buggy days” and into the 21st century by turning to private-sector leaders in technology service delivery. The end result will mean saving money, staying current with modern technology and ensuring that confidential data remain safe and secure from outside threats.
Our critics mistakenly suggest that our contracts with IBM and AT&T are not delivering expected benefits because some agencies are experiencing cost increases. If they had listened to us for the past three years, they would have heard us clearly state again and again that modernizing and securing the state’s IT environment would require upfront investments during the early years of the contracts.
The serious deficiencies of the state’s IT enterprise were well documented by the Governor’s Commission for a New Georgia as well as an independent assessment. Georgia was carrying too much risk, and the problems were too great for the state to solve on its own. The problems have been widespread and deep: PCs running operating systems too old to support software and security updates, service interruptions due to inadequate backup power for critical IT systems, failure to backup important data due to broken servers, and underfunding of disaster recovery and security. In particular, inadequate security has had a tangible effect on Georgians. Since 2005, more than 4.5 million notification letters have been sent to people whose private information may have been exposed from state computers.
As we have said from the beginning, correcting problems of this magnitude and bringing the state’s IT operations up to date requires upfront investments, and we planned for them. Not all agencies are seeing an increase in costs to technology services as a result of the investments; in fact, many agencies are seeing a decrease. But GTA is making up the difference for any agencies experiencing an increase in state funds with money we generated from our own operations.
Our business model projects savings of $203 million over the life of the IBM and AT&T contracts, and during the next two years, we will see the cost efficiencies made possible by modern technology. At the same time, we are already bringing private-sector best practices to the state and improving our ability to secure citizens’ sensitive information.
The path toward IT transformation is as thorny and difficult as we expected, but it is worth the effort. The changes we are beginning to see will benefit Georgia taxpayers well into the future.