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How Georgia successfully overhauled IT

Kenneth Corbin | Aug. 27, 2015
COO of Georgia Technology Authority discusses the sweeping enterprise-driven privatization push that's improved security, cut costs and upended the state's IT culture.

"Our goal was not to save money -- our goal was to reduce risk to the state, to improve service delivery," he says. "We now have a more secure, reliable recoverable operating environment as a result."

Then, this week, the GTA is bringing on board Capgemini to operate as a services integrator, charged with coordinating the delivery of the various vendor offerings in use throughout the state.

Under the two principal contracts, IBM manages areas like desktop computing, maintenance and refresh cycles and security, while AT&T handles the state's LAN and WAN deployments, among other functions. Meanwhile, GTA has layered a host of other providers into Georgia's IT apparatus, including Microsoft and its popular Office 365 cloud product.

"It's fairly extensive," Johnson says of the GETS initiative.

On top of the privatization aspect of the GTA's work, an animating force has been the push to embrace an enterprise-oriented approach to IT, where individual state agencies and offices might retain control over certain niche applications, but larger, commodity infrastructure and services are deployed and managed centrally. As Johnson recalls it, the situation he inherited was one with "each agency doing their own thing in their own way, and I might add in a very inconsistent way."

"Going to this enterprise model and going to a centralized command and control if you will in terms of the way we run our projects," Johnson says, "has made all the difference in the world."

Of course, when the wheels began moving toward large-scale privatization in 2007 and 2008, Johnson and his team encountered some predictable resistance from the employees who had been managing different pockets of IT in-house.

"Of all the challenges, probably the greatest challenge is the culture," Johnson says.

But the GTA worked with its service providers to achieve what Johnson calls a "soft landing zone" for the affected workers, arranging for many of them to come on as staff with the vendors. That arrangement provided for "knowledge transfer" and "business continuity" to help ease the transition from an in-house to an outsourced service model, but also evidently proved beneficial for the workers who moved from the government to the private sector through that process.

"Many of those folks who transitioned back in '08 still work for those providers today," Johnson says.

 

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