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2010 Beyond the Beltway Conference Recap

TechAmerica presented their 2010 Beyond the Beltway conference on March 22, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia. A key session of the day included Anne Margulies, Chief Information Officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Karen W. Robinson, Interim Executive Director of the Texas Department of Information Resources and Interim Chief Technology Officer for the State of Texas, and Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer for the State of California.

Anne Margulies kicked off the panel by briefly reviewing the Commonwealth's Information Technology Strategic Plan. Highlights of the plan – and projects currently underway – include consolidation of information technology governance, a new data center that will be 70 percent more energy efficient, an extended broadband infrastructure, which the Commonwealth has received stimulus funding for, and system modernization made possible by the Commonwealth's IT Capital Plan. The Commonwealth is currently in their second year of their five-year Capital Plan that allows the modernization of major systems such as the upcoming motor vehicle system, integrated tax system, and human resources system. Looking to the future Margulies stressed the importance of Health Information Technology (HIT) in Massachusetts and the Commonwealth's goal to be leaders in the endeavor. Other future projects on the Commonwealth to-do list are continuing and advancing their efforts toward open data and government transparency, encouraging civic engagement through the use of social media tools, and revamping their transportation system with smart highways and sophisticated communications. To conclude, Margulies urged vendors who wished to do business with the Commonwealth to do their homework: read their Strategic Plan, come ready to assess the Commonwealth's specific needs, and to treat Massachusetts as an enterprise.

Karen W. Robinson brought a little piece of Texas culture with her as she used a barrel race to explain Texas' plan for technology improvement. Robinson's current plan for Texas is to build momentum so that the state may continue to succeed in their technology endeavors. Robinson attributed each barrel in a barrel race to one of four key attributes to success for Texas and its Department of Information Resources as she talked of good equipment, a healthy lifestyle, a solid team, and finally the ability to continue to move forward. Robinson highlighted the success of Texas' statewide cooperative contracts that has over 2,800 customers within the state. Large projects for Texas, such as the TEX-AN Program were discussed as the first RFO for the project for a Security Operations Center (SOC) will be released in the upcoming weeks (GovWin Opportunities 17053 and 50995). Robinson concluded her portion of the panel by stressing to vendors the importance of teamwork and collaboration when working with the State of Texas.

Teri Takai of California concluded the panel as she presented the California Office of the Chief Information Officer's (OCIO) report card. Highlights of the Report Card include a completed Strategic Plan, an information technology capital plan, a project management office, and a reorganization proposal. With the reorganization proposal, a new order has been created in California in regards to their information technology governance in which all Agency Information Officers (AIO) must be approved by OCIO and any enterprise architecture must also be approved by OCIO. Additionally, a 14 member cabinet of information officers appoints a Information Security Officer (ISO) to each agency. Takai touched on the difficulty found in reorganization due to entrenched agency-specific cultures. However, currently California hopes to take this new order and use it to develop a smooth model toward consolidation that will stand the test of administration change, especially since 2010 is an election year. Other goals for California include a reduction of data center square footage and a possible move toward virtualization. Takai summarized California's current technology environment as consolidating on two fronts: governance and information systems.

To conclude the Big State Update and Outlook panel, conference participants asked the CIOs a series of questions regarding the states' plans for including localities in their consolidation plans and how to build an information technology infrastructure that can withstand change. In regards to localities' involvement in statewide consolidation, all three women responded no for the time-being, stressing the need to focus on the state level first. Margulies however went on to say, that upon successful completion of the Commonwealth's consolidation efforts, Massachusetts plans to work with its cities and towns next. As for the creation of a resilient infrastructure, Margulies stressed the necessity to make the infrastructure administration and CIO-proof, Robinson expanded on that by highlighting the importance of agency collaboration, and Takai concluded by addressing participants in the room, saying vendors need to acknowledge their role in the information technology community.

Following the Big State Update was a panel on State Trends and Issues. Speakers for this panel included Ken Theis, Director and Chief Information Officer for the Michigan Department of Information Technology, Eugene J. Huang, Government Operations Director for the National Broadband Task Force, and Kevin Kampschroer, Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings of the General Services Administration's Public Building Services.

Kevin Theis led the panel with an "opportunity of a lifetime" as he introduced Health Information Technology (HIT). Theis emphasized the ability to influence and reshape the entire health industry by allowing for the capture of information (HIT), the ability to move that information through Health Information Exchange (HIE), and the ability to govern this process through Regional Health Information Offices (RHIO). Theis described Michigan's approach to HIT and their goal to have HIE fully operational by 2014. The State is currently working on their governance model, which is due by the end of April. Theis also stressed the complexity of HIT, particularly when it comes to building and creating a backbone for each state so that they can connect at the national level. Though states are taking different approaches on how to manage their funds and how to develop their HIT programs, Theis concluded his portion of the panel by emphasizing the brevity of the opportunity and the likelihood states will seek out vendors who have proven expertise in the industry.

Eugene Huang gave a brief presentation on the progress of broadband as he went over the goals of the recently released National Broadband Plan. Huang also ran down a few of the recommendations from the National Plan that included the expansion of the wireless communications spectrum, a reform of the universal service fund, providing affordable broadband to lower-income households, building a path to a nationwide public safety network, a reform of the eRate program, and the expansion of the federal networks contract to the state and local network. In terms of what's next for broadband, Huang stated the Plan's recommendations are already being implemented, and the next steps need to be taken by Congress for additional recommendations.

In Kevin Kampschroer's presentation regarding green buildings, Kampschroer made his point very clear as he began by stating if we are not building a green building, it would be more economical to not build at all. Kampschroer stressed the importance of the integration of the function of the building with the manner in which it is built. Kampschroer talked about simple changes, such as turning servers around in a data center as an example, so that heat generated from servers could be recycled for the cooling of the building. Overall, Kampschroer stressed how the minimum standard mentality in building needs to change.

Following the State Trends and Issues panel, a Big City and County update took place with speakers Bryan Sivak, Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia, Ron Bergmann, First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in New York City, and Catherin Maras, Chief Information Officer of Bear County, Texas.

Bryan Sivak led the City discussion as he spoke of his efforts to espouse a philosophy with his governing. Sivak went over his plan to transform Washington, D.C. into an agile government. With an agile process, agile people, and the agile tools, Sivak discussed the ability to transform the way in which government works. He highlighted some projects he has implemented since his appointment in October 2009, which include starting an internal blog for government workers where questions can be posted and answers found moments later. The project started with only six people and within three months has grown to 400 participants. Track.dv.gov is another new development that allows constituents to track their government using a real-time operating tool. According to Sivak, future endeavors for D.C. include the expansion of broadband and the public computing ability.

Ron Bergmann provided a brief overview of technology activity in New York City currently and what the City hopes to accomplish in the coming years. Bergmann stated that the City should be looked at as an enterprise more now than ever before. Recently appointed Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Carole Post, released her 30 Day Report at the beginning of March that highlighted big projects in store for the City. Bergmann expanded upon these projects as he spoke of the City's consolidation efforts and their plans for modernizing the city data centers. Bergmann spoke of three enhanced units: accountability and vendor management, web and media operations, and telecommunications and broadband. Like Sivak in D.C., Bergmann believes New York City will find success in failing early and inexpensively.

Catherine Maras, relatively new to Bear County, provided the sole county overview of the conference. Maras began by introducing Bear County as a county that has been extremely fortunate in the economic recession due to its broad base. Currently Maras explained she is working with her team to develop a finalized working strategy for her office and for the County. To summarize their efforts thus far, Maras described her goals for office to be results-oriented, innovative, and to provide excellent services. Maras stated she and her team are working on defining lines of business for the County. New technology initiatives for the County include a new CAD system, a fully integrated justice system, ERP implementation, GIS, and social media.

The conference concluded with a panel that involved all speakers with the addition of the Honorable James D. Duffey Jr., Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Duffey provided an update on the Virginia agreement with Northrop Grumman saying the focus currently is to try and put things back on track with the outsourcing project. When later asked what Virginia's priorities will be three years from now, Duffey responded he wanted to be able to say outsourcing was the right decision. Other questions posed to panelists covered topics such as their ideal sales call, how governments are addressing procurement transformation, and how agencies are coping with retiring baby-boomers.

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