Agencies participating in the Georgia Enterprise Technology Services (GETS) program are receiving more for their money – improved data security, around-the-clock service desk support (a first for the state), disaster recovery capabilities (another first), an upgraded network with 100% greater capacity and failover capabilities, and modern equipment with a contractual refresh plan for timely replacement.
When the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) launched the initiative, the aim was not cost savings, although we are seeing a decrease in agency IT spending and our business case has always shown that the initiative will save money over the life of the contracts – an estimated $181 million over 10 years. More importantly, the initiative was a necessary response to the untenable risk the state was carrying. A few years ago, it became clear that the state’s IT infrastructure was inadequate, underfunded and unable to meet basic industry standards for security and daily operations. It should concern all of us that the state had no disaster recovery capabilities previously.
Because the state lacked the resources to fix its serious problems, we turned to the private sector. Since 2009, AT&T has provided managed network services, including delivering and managing wide area network, local area network and voice. The same year, IBM began providing infrastructure services, which include delivering and managing mainframe computing, servers, print, service desk, end-user computing, disaster recovery and data security. These partnerships are also enabling the state to make infrastructure and network investments that would not have been possible otherwise.
We use a consumption-based model, which means agencies pay only for the services they use. Further, we now have more transparency in IT spending, enabling agencies to make more informed decisions about their IT expenditures.
New approach to end-user computing brings value and efficiency
As an example, the state’s new approach to end-user computing focuses on purchasing services rather than equipment and provides employees in participating agencies with up-to-date and secure desktop, laptop and tablet computers. It’s the same approach used by leading private-sector companies. With the privatization of end-user computing, participating state agencies pay a monthly service fee. They avoid costly investments in equipment and support staff, and pay only for services they need.
In the past, agencies often found it difficult to afford upgrades and support for their computers. As a result, they frequently operated old computers that could not run current software, including the latest programs to protect against viruses and other forms of malware. These computers could pose a security risk to citizens’ private information. They were more likely to experience problems, thereby reducing employee productivity and service delivery to Georgians. Agencies also faced the additional challenges of recruiting and maintaining IT support staffs.
Privatization has resulted in these additional benefits:
- Computers are refreshed on a regular basis; desktops are replaced every five years, laptops and tablets every three years.
- For the first time, technical support is available statewide on a 24/7/365 basis by calling a single toll-free number.
- Computers arrive loaded not only with standard software like Office and email fully configured, but also agency-specific software applications. Formerly a significant expense to agencies, those costs are now included in the service agreement.
- For the first time, computers can be maintained on a statewide basis. More than 33,000 state computers now run software that enables technicians at a central location to troubleshoot and resolve problems reported by end users. If a problem cannot be resolved remotely, a deskside visit is scheduled.
- The same computer-management software is used to automatically download the latest updates for anti-malware programs, application patches, and security updates, all on a regular basis.
- For the first time, laptop computers run encryption software to protect sensitive data in case they are lost or stolen.
- Comprehensive asset management is part of the service, and computers are tagged with barcodes and scanned into a central database.
Agency involvement remains key to success
Our state agency customers helped to develop
Georgia’s IT enterprise is more modern, robust, reliable and secure than ever before and is set to serve as a model for other states – a far cry from where we started just a few years ago.