Georgia is well represented among the 2018 winners of the StateScoop 50 awards, which annually highlight outstanding leaders and innovations in the state IT community.

Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande was among eight people nationwide to receive the State Leadership of the Year award, while Walter Tong, Director of Cyber Intelligence, was one of seven winners in the State Cybersecurity Leader category. In addition, Georgia Gateway was among 12 projects recognized as a State IT Innovation of the Year award winner.

The awards were announced on April 22 at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) midyear conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

As Chief Digital Officer for the state of Georgia, Mr. Deshpande leads GTA’s Office of Digital Services Georgia. He envisioned and led state government’s transition to an enterprise web-publishing platform based on Drupal, an open source content management system hosted in the cloud. The platform currently supports more than 80 state agency websites. Under his direction, Georgia became the first state in the nation to use Drupal across its enterprise and meet special needs of constituents with a range of disabilities affecting vision, hearing, motion and cognition.

As Georgia’s Cyber Intelligence Director, Mr. Tong works with state agencies on security program development, evaluations, and risk management. He developed and implemented a cyber intelligence program to provide actionable intelligence to key state decision makers. Having served 24 years in the U.S. military in information security, Mr. Tong also led development of enterprise guidelines for handling sensitive information and hiring standards for information security officers. He was Georgia’s lead planner for DHS’s Security Cyber Storm V exercise and is an advisor to the Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training, a $100 million facility opening in July 2018.

The largest IT project in the state’s history, Georgia Gateway provides a single entry point for assistance programs spanning multiple state agencies. These programs include Medicaid; PeachCare for Kids; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children; and Childcare and Parent Services. Benefits include self-service access, a streamlined application process, seamless information sharing among programs, and enhanced fraud detection and prevention measures. It ensures compliance with federal guidelines. During the first seven months, Georgia Gateway processed 200,000 applications and 176,000 renewals.

Award recipients were selected by members of the state and local government IT community in nationwide voting. More than 500,000 votes were cast on StateScoop’s website, narrowing hundreds of readers’ nominations in six categories to select this year’s winners.

Learn more about the StateScoop 50 Awards.