Georgia’s Information Technology Excellence
The state of Georgia has taken bold steps to modernize its IT enterprise over the past decade. In doing so, it has earned a national reputation as a leader among states in the use of technology to transform government operations. At the same time, Georgia’s pioneering approach to partnering with world-class technology companies has become a model for other governments. The following accomplishments and honors from 2020 document Georgia’s continuing successes.
Good news from the latest report card - the state of Georgia earned a grade of A, the highest score possible, in the 2020 Digital States Survey. Not only that, Georgia also ranked among the top three states in the Leadership category.
What does it take to get this A? Digital States criteria say it indicates a state that is demonstrating "strong innovation, high performing solutions with verifiable impacts across all categories. Excellent practices have been applied in all aspects of operations, governance and administration."
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. Over the last nearly 25 years, the center has evaluated 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.
Georgia's A marks its second consecutive top score going back to the 2018 survey. The state earned an A- in 2016. Georgia shares the A status this year with only four other states: Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah. That is select company to be in. 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.
The category of Leadership gauges a state's technology strategy on consistency and support of the governor’s priorities, as well as effectiveness of collaboration with agencies on programs, planning, and policies.
Georgia received national recognition for Cyber Dawg, the state’s live-action cybersecurity training exercise. Georgia earned a prestigious National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) State IT Recognition Award. Cyber Dawg and other award winners were announced at NASCIO’s virtual annual conference in mid-October.
NASCIO honored Cyber Dawg in the cybersecurity award category. The multi-agency security exercise debuted in May 2019 and was hosted at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta. It brought together information security professionals from six state agencies and, through a special partnership, the far-away Republic of Georgia. GTA led the event and collaborated closely with the Georgia National Guard in conducting the exercise. The complex exercise provided invaluable practice for state cybersecurity team members in live-action scenarios. In this case, they were put to the task of defending against mock ransomware attacks. The exercise also fostered connections across agencies in the campaign to safeguard state systems and information.
The Cyber Dawg exercise will be held annually. Plans are to expand the exercise to serve Georgia local governments and their cybersecurity team members. The 2020 virtual edition involved more education sessions and individual practice with security professionals participating remotely.
Georgia received two awards from StateScoop, a leading public sector tech media brand in the state and local government market. Georgia’s new digital platform, GovHub, as well as state Chief Information Security Officer David Allen won 2020 StateScoop 50 Awards. The annual StateScoop 50 Awards honor the best and the brightest who make state government more efficient and effective. These awards celebrate the outstanding achievements and acknowledge states’ tireless efforts to make a positive impact in the government IT community and in public service. GovHub, overseen by GTA’s Digital Services Georgia team, earned a State IT Innovation of the Year award. David Allen was honored with a State Cybersecurity Leader of the Year award. Members of the state and local government IT community nationwide cast more than one million votes on StateScoop's website to select the winners. Hundreds of nominees were in the running across six award categories.
The following 10 projects from state and local government organizations received top honors in Georgia's Technology Innovation Showcase for 2020. They were presented at the Georgia Virtual Digital Government Summit on October 8-9, 2020.
The Governor's Mansion RFID Project
Georgia Building Authority
The Georgia Building Authority (GBA) is responsible for ensuring that the $13 million art collection housed at the Governor's Mansion is maintained and inventory is always kept up to date. As recently as 2018, inventorying the Mansion's extensive collection required manually locating items and comparing them against the last appraisal reports. The process took weeks to reconcile due to the arduous process of matching items with original mid-twentieth-century photos and hand-painted inventory numbers for verification.
To boost efficiency, GBA engaged WiseTrack, an application that specializes in inventory tracking for government agencies. With the help of WiseTrack, GBA carefully attached a variety of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to each of the collection's pieces. Data picked up from antennae, scanners, and chips are compiled in a web-based application. GBA staff are now able to locate and track item movement easily by using a scanner and reviewing the RFID antenna report. The solution is an effective way to track the museum-quality collection at a taxpayer-conscious price. With artifacts now tagged, GBA's plans include adding interactive metadata so that Governor's Mansion guests can use their smartphones to learn more about each piece.
Enterprise Asset Management and Work Order System
The City of Augusta
Augusta implemented an enterprise work order and asset management system to successfully streamline business processes and support mobile operations. Departments use Cityworks to remotely dispatch crews for work orders based on location, eliminating unnecessary trips for paperwork. Before Cityworks, each Augusta department used its own tools for asset and work order management. After first deploying Cityworks for asset management in the utilities department, the city recognized the tool's potential to improve operations. Cityworks was soon deployed across all departments.
Today, Cityworks is used by more than 775 staff members from 25 Augusta departments with dozens of business processes configured in Cityworks workflows. More importantly, the system uses mobile devices, maps, and ESRI tools to streamline complex processes and improve service delivery to Augusta residents.
Cybersecurity for a Safer City
City of East Point
East Point knew it needed a cybersecurity solution that could buy back crucial time for its IT team in the face of cyberthreats. The city chose the Darktrace Cyber AI platform to detect and fight evolving threats targeting its digital infrastructure. This machine learning technology has proven critical in East Point's ability to continuously monitor the security of its digital environments. It also helps defend against fastmoving ransomware and unauthorized data exfiltration.
Without training datasets or preset rules, Cyber AI learns directly from the city's infrastructure, ingesting hundreds of dimensions of raw data to discern a sense of normalcy. This understanding of normalcy contextualizes patterns of use and how users interact and collaborate in real time. With Cyber AI, East Point can protect the infrastructure that keeps the lights on, heat running, water flowing, and waste managed for its constituents.
State Driver Services New Card Production Services
The Georgia Department of Driver Services
The Department of Driver Services (DDS) strives to incorporate new technology and best industry practices into the state's digital licensing system every eight-to-10 years. In 2018, almost 11 years since a system upgrade, DDS sought to replace the outdated system with the latest in security and constituent service efficiencies. After a competitive state bidding process and a contract awarded to Thales Gemalto, DDS began the implementation process. The New Card Production Services (CPS) system supports production of interim and permanent driver’s licenses (DL) and identification cards.
Before the new system, it took at least four minutes to complete the driver examiner transaction - examiners now complete a transaction in just two minutes. Printing an interim DL or ID now takes only seconds rather than the two minutes required before. Data management improvements enable constituents at DDS locations to benefit from electronic imaging and quicker resolution to problems.
Quicker transaction time for DL and ID issuance means driver examiners can help more constituents. This increased efficiency allows for the redistribution of positions to help offset heavy workloads in other areas. Further, the system allows DDS to issue licenses and ID cards that are more secure than ever before.
Automate Tax and Wage Reports via SFTP
The Georgia Department of Labor
Aging systems written in COBOL were creating challenges for the Department of Labor (DOL) in processing over 1,600 pieces of magnetic media per cycle. The old system also increased the potential for a breach of security when data were sent via the United States Postal Service. In 2016, DOL began a modernization program to update the technology with secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) as a primary focus.
Written in Java, SFTP allows payroll service providers and large single employers to transmit quarterly tax and wage reports electronically instead of mailing them on magnetic media as they had before. As a result, magnetic media submissions have decreased by 25 percent. SFTP also prevents employers from submitting reports with invalid, inactive, or voided DOL account numbers.
Voucher Capture and Retrieval System
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was in dire need of a system that could replace its outdated voucher processing system. The new DNR Voucher Capture and Retrieval System provides a vehicle for DNR to capture vendor payment vouchers electronically and quickly transmit them to DNR accounts payable (AP). This web-based application is accessible from any DNR office.
Users enter voucher information into a form, attach scans or photos of supporting documentation, and submit that information for payment. The voucher information is organized and presented to AP through online work queues. AP then can assess the validity of the payment request and load the required information into the Peoplesoft ERP for payment. The Voucher Capture and Retrieval System also provides audit data, tracking capability, payment status, and the ability to locate and view voucher records.
By reducing the time required to pay vendor invoices, the application reduces the frequency and friction caused by late payments and improves cash flow for DNR business partners.
The Georgia Department of Revenue
The Department of Revenue (DOR) sought a solution for its aging Georgia Registration and Title Information System (GRATIS), created in 1999. Operating costs were high, and counties experienced challenges in serving constituents when their printers were not connecting to GRATIS properly. DOR found a solution with the Driver Record and Integrated Vehicle Enterprise System (DRIVES), a multi-year effort between DOR and the Department of Driver Services (DDS). The project modernized and combined two of Georgia's largest and most complex legacy software systems.
DRIVES was developed and implemented using the FAST Enterprises commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) application configured and tailored to both agencies' business requirements. With DRIVES, the agencies have an application that can be supported by internal staff. The .NET framework platform provides technological and cost-saving advances, making the legacy mainframe platform a thing of the past.
The Mission Personnel Accountability System
The Georgia National Guard and State Department of Defense
The Georgia Army National Guard and the State Department of Defense Personnel Office are committed to ensuring a streamlined process and quick disbursement of pay for Georgia's soldiers. In the past, confusion surrounding duty status often led to questions about soldiers’ pay and entitlements. The Georgia Army National Guard developed the Mission Personnel Accountability System (MPAS), allowing individual units to easily update their personnel rosters.
The system roster remains open for personnel additions each day, a snapshot of each soldier's duty and pay status is taken at midnight, and the data becomes static for administrative processing. The snapshot file can then be downloaded and given to the State Personnel Office for hiring and pay purposes. With the introduction of MPAS, the Georgia Army National Guard has delivered a breakthrough innovation. Georgia can now ensure that soldiers do not experience paycheck interruptions. MPAS provides Georgia a uniquely efficient personnel accounting system, unparalleled among other states’ National Guard organizations.
OneUSG Connect Payroll Standardization
The University System of Georgia
The University System of Georgia (USG) is responsible for 26 higher education institutions and approximately 389 facilities within the Georgia Public Library Service system. The OneUSG human capital management (HCM) initiative brought all the ADP-supported institutions onto one common HCM platform. This consolidation occurred in discrete cohorts, beginning with the USG office in January 2017 and concluding with the final institution in March 2020. OneUSG consolidates human resources, payroll, and benefits functions onto a common technical platform, eliminating redundant hardware. It also centralizes support teams, optimizing the use of USG internal human resources.
The technical architecture required to support the OneUSG implementation was extensive and required tight partnerships with member institutions to design a flexible framework. It was important to build a system that scaled but also ensured proper controls and data security. OneUSG positions the shared services center to provide transactional support and act as the primary contact for all USG employees and retirees. The conversion significantly reduces costs to institutions. It also enables USG to provide consistent and cost-effective support for its employees through its focused contact centers.
Redesigned Event Valuation Process
The Georgia World Congress Center
The World Congress Center's (GWCC) Redesigned Event Valuation Process sought to optimize room assignments, update cost prediction methods, and suggest profit margins. The resulting web application was strategically developed to help visualize event placement based on available space and client needs.
The application aids in prioritizing events, increasing net profit, and bolstering a sales team striving to increase revenue while keeping costs low. GWCC, along with eight industrial engineering seniors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, created the application from scratch. It uses a mixed integer linear model, a dimensional coordinate to reflect the maintenance of event services, and a weight coefficient for distance.
GWCC built the web-based room assignment model using Gurobi optimization to produce profit increases. Using data to help guide profit, the GWCC sales team can see the direct impact of their pricing decisions. This information encourages collaboration within the team to manage profit margins.