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Deltek's first visit to the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC)

The 32nd annual Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) was held Jan. 23-26, 2012, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The event is touted as one of the leading technology conferences for educators and administrators nationwide, and highlights cutting-edge technology utilized in K-12 through higher education institutions. The conference offers teachers, faculty heads, media specialists, and technology directors an opportunity to coalesce and learn about new tools to implement in classrooms and curriculums, with the goal of boosting learning environments and student engagement.
 
This year was the first time Deltek attended FETC, and as the analyst designated to partake in the event, I found it offered a wealth of information for educators and vendors alike. Though most conference sessions were aimed at teachers, vendors were able to gain insight into their competitors, desired product capabilities, and which technologies are highest in demand. More than 500 companies occupied the conference’s 275,000 square-foot exhibit hall to demo and detail their solutions in hopes of making their mark in the ever-expanding education IT landscape.   
 
Later this month, I will post a formal recap of the FETC sessions attended. Admittedly, it was difficult to choose amongst the more than 150 concurrent sessions offered over the three-day event. While not every session was a slam dunk, key takeaways were obtained in each. The recap will contain session summaries with valuable information for contractors wanting to learn more about key players in their market, as well as teachers simply wanting to hear about what’s out there and how they can improve current practices.
 
Stay tuned for the full analyst recap and follow me on Twitter @GovWinKRidley for the latest state and local buzz.

 

IT Vendors: Beware the Overselling of K-12 Virtual Education

A recent Associated Press story on K-12 distance learning perfectly captures all the perils IT vendors face in the overselling of virtual learning. IT vendors should recognize that the potential total number of students who can be enrolled in K-12 online programs is limitless. However, the real gains from online learning will come as supplements to the bricks-and-mortar high school classrooms (i.e., blended online-onsite learning), not as a replacement for these classrooms.
 
Let’s take at look at the hype around virtual learning with excerpts from the AP story: “But as states pour money into virtual classrooms, with an estimated 200,000 virtual K-12 students in 40 states from Washington to Wisconsin … regulation isn't moving nearly as fast as the virtual school boom.”
 
Unfortunately, few reliable data sources exist for virtual school enrollment. Most widely cited statistics are produced by organizations with a stake in promoting such a boom. A 2009 U.S. Department of Education meta-study, which is cited in the AP story, offers this statistic:
 
Online learning—for students and for teachers—is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. The National Center for Education Statistics (2008) estimated that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology-based distance education course grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. On the basis of amore recent district survey, Picciano and Seaman (2009) estimated that more than a million K-12 students took online courses in school year 2007–08. (PDF p. 13)
 
Enrolling in “a technology-based distance education course” is a far cry from being a full-time online student. However, from a vendor perspective, a seat is a seat, whether the student is taking multiple courses or is full time online. Picciano and Seaman (cited in the DOE study above) have produced more recent peer-reviewed research (2011) predicting “that by 2016, five million K-12 mostly high school students will be enrolled in these (online) courses.”
 
For further analysis, please read the complete analyst recap, located here.

 

MITA maturity levels in states

At the end of November, I wrote a blog and an analyst perspective (log-in required) about the draft Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) 3.0 document that has been released for comment. A large part of MITA rests on the State Self-Assessment (MITA SS-A), which is used to determine a state’s current business capabilities. The MITA Maturity Model (MMM) is utilized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to show how business capabilities can evolve.

 

The MITA SS-A section has been expanded in 3.0 and now includes seven standards and conditions. These conditions must be adhered to by the states within 12 months of MITA 3.0 final release in order for Medicaid technology investments to be eligible for enhanced federal-matched funds. The 3.0 MMM is as follows:

  • Level 1: All technology, policy, statutory enablers exist and are widely used. Agency complies with baseline requirements.
  • Level 2: All technology, policy, and statutory enablers exist and are widely used. Agency improves important parts of its business.
  • Level 3: Industry standards are widely used. Agency promotes collaboration, data sharing, interoperability, and consolidation of business processes.
  • Levels 4 and 5: Leverage and reuse of technologies is widely used. Seamless coordination and integration with state and federal exchanges. Data exchange is real-time.

After reading through several MITA SS-As, I found most Medicaid programs today are at either a Level 1 or 2, but individual components of state programs can be more or less advanced. Although CMS indicates that there is no such thing as an MM Level 1 state or MM Level 3 state, most programs have indicated where they fall in the respective SS-A or Medicaid Health Information Technology (HIT) plans. Montana, Iowa, and Alabama all classify themselves as a Level 1 state, but have plans in place to reach Level 3 maturity. South Dakota is aiming for a mix of Levels 2 and 3, while Nebraska is looking to achieve between Levels 3 and 5. Illinois, which will be undergoing a Medicaid management information system (MMIS) procurement next summer, is looking to reach Level 2 maturity. West Virginia is currently procuring its new MMIS and hopes to achieve Level 4 or 5.

 

It’s important for vendors of any Medicaid business product (not just an MMIS vendor), and now eligibility product, to know what maturity level a state wants to achieve to ensure proper MITA standards and ideals are met. Enhanced funding for both MMISs and integrated eligibility systems hang on compliance with MITA standards. Vendors like ACS have products meeting Levels 3 and 4 maturity models, so turning a blind eye to the new MITA 3.0 draft and any draft that follows will result in lost business with states and Medicaid programs.

 

Follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIn.

Spotlight on American Education Week: statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) grant

By Randi Powell and Joseph Lee

 

The Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Grant Program was established in 2005 under the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) Institute of Education Sciences (IES) as a competitive cooperative agreement grant. The grant was intended to allow states to manage and analyze education data such as student records. This data would help states, districts, schools, educators and other stakeholders make more informed decisions on ways to improve student learning and achievement. Because these SLDS projects are such a large undertaking that require technical skills and technologies most states and localities do not have, education technology vendors have stepped in to design, develop and implement these federally-funded statewide systems. 

 

Since the grant’s debut, there have been four rounds of SLDS grants awarded to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The most recent request for applications (RFA) released on September 15, 2011, is for the fifth round FY12 grants. Like previous years, the three priorities listed for the FY12 SLDS RFA are to:
 

1. Design, develop, and implement a statewide, longitudinal K-12 data system

2. Develop and link early childhood data with the state’s K-12 data system

3. Develop and link postsecondary and/or workforce data with the state’s K-12 data system

Individual grants for FY12 are estimated to range from $1 million to $5 million over a three-year period. The IES will award grants of no more than $5 million for Priority 1 and grants of no more than $4 million for Priorities 2 and 3. The submission deadline is December 15, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. EST. The only applications that will not be considered for the FY12 grants are the 20 state educational agencies that received the SLDS ARRA grant in May 2010, as the ARRA grants were two to three times the size of previous SLDS grants. A map of all 41 grantee states and the District of Columbia can be found below:


 

 

The federal RFA requirements are vague, but they permit grantees to develop plans, structure processes, and craft solicitations to meet their individual needs while guaranteeing federal outcomes are met. This open language in the RFA has also allowed education technology vendors to create SLDS products that act more like modular solutions. States piecemeal these solutions together along with other in-house and third party solutions and services to create a patch work SLDS. As of July 2011, IES reported on the status of SLDS projects across all 50 states, including states that had not participated in the SLDS grants. It was found that states are at differing degrees of completeness and many are still looking to procure key solutions. GovWin has been tracking many of these upcoming SLDS related opportunities:

 

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity A – Early Warning System; New York State Education Department

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity B – Electronic Record Exchange System; New York State Education Department

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity C – Higher Education Longitudinal Data System; North Dakota Department of Public Instruction

·GovWin Tracked Opportunity D – Statewide Longitudinal Data System Student and Teacher Scheduling; Connecticut Department of Education

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity E – Statewide Postsecondary Student Identification System; Iowa Department of Education

·GovWin Tracked Opportunity F – Statewide Student Information System; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity G – Postsecondary Educational Longitudinal Data System; Illinois Department of Higher Education

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity H – Statewide Student Information System and Special Education System; New Hampshire Department of Education

 

Analysts Take

 

The SLDS initiative has become the centerpiece of a growing education technology market as federal dollars push it further and faster. These one-time federal funds used for designing and implementing SLDSs have created a window of opportunity for vendors, who will likely extend these projects with ongoing maintenance and training services contracts. Nevertheless, in a time when talk of another recession looms next to the short life span on these SLDS funds, financial sustainability and technical adaptability have become major factors for states to consider.

 

In the future, SEAs will look to continue linking their K-12 SLDSs to more local education agencies (LEAs), charter schools, higher education institutions, and workforce agencies to build out a more complete view of academic achievement. Even though most of the attention at this time is being put on the development and installation of education longitudinal data systems across the country, the data this infrastructure is being built for will continue to grow and become more complex. IT solicitations seeking more efficient and effective ways of handling education data will become even more of a need:

 

·Web-based portal development

·Data collection/quality services

·Data standardization/integration services

·Data storage expansion solutions

·Interoperability expansion solutions 

 

These data-focused SLDS-related solicitations will continue to stream in even once federal grant funds dry up and larger SLDS modular solution projects are completed. Ensuring data such as student records, teacher assessments, and test score assessments can be shared not only from one district to the next or from K-12 to higher education, but from state to state will be the next hurdle.

For this article in full, click here.

Follow GovWin's General Government team for all state and local government education (PK-12 and Higher) updates, here.

While Ranking in the Top 10 for Efficiencies, Colorado Has Over 265 Active GovWin Opportunities

Over the past few weeks, GovWin has blogged about various states which have been working to improve efficiency and cut costs in the wake of tightening budget environments. One state which was stood out in making these improvements is Colorado.
Currently, Colorado ranks as one of the more efficient states on a statistical basis, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and GovWin (see previous analysis here and here). According to the combined data, Colorado ranked in the top 10 for overall state budget efficiency, and how the state spent federal aid dollars in 2010.
Besides being among the top states for efficiency, Colorado has also been proactive in terms of taking these efficiencies to the next level. In 2008, the Colorado Government Efficiency and Management (GEM) Review delivered a list of recommendations to Governor Bill Ritter detailing ways to improve and deliver $205 million in five-year cost-savings, customer-service efficiencies, and other benefits.
Analyst’s Take:
Overall, GovWin believes that efficiency initiatives in states such as Colorado will be done in waves, with multiple rounds of consolidation, service redefinition, and streamlining done over several years to accomplish wide-reaching reforms. Effective reforms will most likely span multiple administrations over a five to ten-year period, with virtually every efficiency reform having a downstream impact on IT systems and services. 
Moving forward, successful vendors should use Colorado’s past strategic recommendations (and future efficiency initiatives) to create business development justifications for IT products and solutions that will allow the state to continue along its path of creating efficiencies and cutting overall costs.
Future Opportunities:
While working to boost is efficiencies over the past several years, Colorado currently has over 265 active GovWin tracked opportunities. The following is a breakdown of the top Colorado opportunities (in terms of value) across the Healthcare, General Government Services and Justice/Public Safety verticals:
Healthcare
1.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity A: Medicaid Management Information System Fiscal Agent Services; Value: $68M
2.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity B: Health Insurance Exchange Services; Value: $20M
3.     GoVwin Tracked Opportunity C: External Quality Review Organization Services; Value: $6.2M
 
General Government Services -
1.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity D: Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions; Value: $25M
2.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity E: Common Shared IT Services Project; Value: $10M
3.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity F: Total Licensing System Replacement; Value: $9M
 
Justice/Public Safety
1.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity G: Justice Information System (JIS); Value: $10M
2.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity H: Next Generation 911 System; Value: $10M
3.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity I: North West Regional 911 Phone System; Value: $5M
Note: Subscribers have access to comprehensive data and analysis for each opportunity including anticipated awards, requirements, and related dates, here.

 

General Government Top Upcoming Opportunities Roundup: Northeast

Over the next 6-12 months, a multitude of contracting opportunities will be coming down the pipeline for vendors providing IT solutions. Here is a roundup of some of the largest and most lucrative projects GovWin is currently tracking:

New York

 

Tracked Opportunity 78417: Transforming New York’s Information Technology Environment

New York is in the midst of completely revamping the procurement process for IT and IT-related services. In early August 2011, the state released a request for information (RFI) asking vendors for advice on how best to proceed with future solicitations regarding data center consolidation, voice over Internet telecommunications, identity and access management, as well as enterprise-wide procurement strategies for IT hardware, software and services. While this RFI will not lead to a comprehensive formal solicitation for these services, it will serve as a vehicle for future requests for proposals (RFPs) and RFIs, including opportunities for IT Office and Equipment and Cloud Computing that GovWin is already tracking.

 

Massachusetts:

Tracked Opportunity 65001: IT Hardware Services, Computers and Servers

The Executive Office of Administration and Finance for Massachusetts has decided to consolidate a handful of major statewide hardware contracts into a single term contract. Contracts ITC16, ITC16A and ITC36 are all scheduled to expire and will be replaced by contract ITC47 for hardware services, computers and servers. This opportunity has been valued at more than $630 million. A draft request for responses was released by the state to be evaluated by vendors. A formal solicitation is expected to be released in mid-October.

  

Tracked Opportunity 66804: Network Services

Originally, this opportunity began with a 2010 notice by the Massachusetts Operational Services Division for Telecommunications Network Services for telecommunications equipment, maintenance, implementation services, and related supplies for communication, voice, data, paging, IP, Web, and radio. However, in April 2011, the state modified the notice while simultaneously bumping the expected value of the contract from $250 million to $350 million. The state confirmed the scope of the services desired was expanded and delayed a solicitation release by several months. Since receiving vendor feedback through several meetings and an August 2011 RFI, the state has increased the overall value of this contract again to $600 million. A solicitation release is expected within the next 2-3 months.

 

Pennsylvania:

 

Tracked Opportunity 75693: Outsourcing of Mainframe and Midrange Computer Operations and Support

In 1998, the Pennsylvania Office of Administration contracted with Unisys to manage and support data center operations. In 2008, the state extended that incumbent agreement until 2014. However, the Office of Administration has begun initiating the first steps in re-soliciting these services well before the contract expires in order to ensure continuity of services. In August 2011, a request for quotes (RFQ) was released on the state bid page for data center strategy and advisory services. The company that wins this contract will assist the state in planning and implementing its long-term data center strategy, including gathering business requirements and drafting a rebid. According to a project timeline released at the RFQ pre-proposal conference, the solicitation for data center operations and support is scheduled for release in March 2012.

 

 Maryland:

 

Tracked Opportunity 42488: Enterprise Resource Planning System

GovWin has been tracking this project for the better part of four years, ever since a July 2007 announcement by the Prince George’s County Purchasing Office stated it would be releasing a solicitation for consultant services to help plan for the procurement of a document management/enterprise content management system. After four years of delays and budget issues, an RFQ was finally released in August 2011 for a program manager to assist the county during implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Originally the county intended to release a solicitation for ERP implementation concurrently with the program manager RFQ, but it appears the consultant portion will be procured before proceeding with the implementation. A solicitation for this project is expected to be released in Q4 2011.

 

Tracked Opportunity 58467: Statewide Human Resources Information System Integration

In May 2009, the Maryland Department of Budget and Management procured software for a new comprehensive human resources information system (HRIS). The integration portion of this project was not included in the requirements for software purchase. For reasons unspecified (most likely budget woes), procurement for integration services has been delayed, but it now appears the state is ramping up activity through its consulting and technical services contracting vehicle. Several RFQs for support personnel have been released by the state over the past year to provide services for the new HRIS. As of now, a comprehensive integration solicitation is scheduled for release by the end of this year, but a recent RFQ for a lead developer/consultant for the project was cancelled this past week. The state has not yet responded to inquiries concerning why or what effect this may have on the integration timeline.

 

 Delaware:

 

Tracked Opportunity 43478: Statewide Telecommunications Voice Systems

Since 2006, Delaware’s Department of Administrative Services has contracted with a number of vendors under Contract 06455RH for telecom voice services. Since May 2011, the state has confirmed it is working on drafting a rebid solicitation for these services. However, the scope of the requirements is apparently undergoing a significant rewrite, and it is not clear what shape the new opportunity will take. The release date has been pushed back several times over the past two months and is now tentatively scheduled for sometime in October.

 

New Jersey:

 

Tracked Opportunity 7786: Statewide Telecommunications Data Services

For the past 12 years, the state of New Jersey has contracted with AT&T and Verizon to provide data telecommunications and high-speed internet services to state government agencies. Though the state appears to be happy with the services it has received (exercising 11 renewal options since 2000), there have been signs over the last year that a potential rebid is in the works. In August 2010, an RFI was released for data and “Centrex-like” voice services, with the intention of gathering business requirements for a new solicitation. In May 2011, GovWin received confirmation that a solicitation is under development by the Treasury Department, but undisclosed difficulties have pushed a release back on several occasions. As of now, the state expects to release a rebid for this project sometime in Q4 2011.

 

 Together, these opportunities represent an estimated value of more than $2.1 billion, and none of them have a formal solicitation out on the street yet. As always, GovWin will continue to monitor these opportunities and others for additional information in the months and years ahead.

 

 

 

 

Earthquake shakes mobile service, and the increased need for NG911

As we near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seems wireless communication during times of crisis is still an uphill battle. Tuesday's 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Mineral, Va. left many East Coasters hanging on the line, waiting for a dial tone. Now, with Hurricane Irene fast approaching, will mobile phone service once again be disrupted?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has launched an investigation into the lost phone service that left many unable to reach family, friends, and 9-1-1 centers for nearly an hour. "We are very concerned by incidents where emergency wireless calls to 9-1-1 after yesterday's earthquake were hampered by network congestion," FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett said in a statement Wednesday.

Barnett also stressed the continued need to move toward next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) services, which allow 9-1-1 centers to receive text, picture and video messages from those reporting an emergency. Here at Deltek's Herndon, Va. headquarters, the state and local research team – in unison – jumped up from our seats as the building shook for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time. After a few minutes of wide-eyed confusion, shaky-voiced fear, and humorous banter mixed throughout the group, many of us grabbed our cell phones or hit the Internet for news. As for myself, I immediately updated my social media profile with a simple "um ... was that an earthquake?" which was followed by a bevy of friends posting similar updates.

According to Twitter's own feed, more than 40,000 earthquake-related Tweets were sent within a minute of initial rumblings, and the site hit "about 5,500 Tweets per second (TPS). For context, this TPS is more than Osama Bin Laden's death & on par w/ the Japanese quake."

Sure, social media is a great way to spread the word, but what about direct communication during an emergency? I tried calling my mom shortly after the shake – no service. Two minutes later – no service. Five, ten, twenty minutes – no service. I resorted to text messages, all of which went through without flaw.

The reason for often seamless text service is that text messages can be sent, cued for transmission, and placed in an open route within seconds, whereas a phone call can take minutes to transmit and cannot be altered for time. Mobile phone companies admit service was a problem during the quake, though there is debate on whether it stemmed from extreme call traffic or damage to network infrastructure. Still, regardless of the root of disruption, you'd hope calls to emergency services would somehow move to the front of the line for priority connection. Earlier this month, Deltek Senior Analyst Jeff Webster reported on the radio spectrum known as the D-block, which the FCC, Congress and state officials are working to determine how to best allocate. The D-block has received a lot of attention from public safety officials urging Congress to assign the spectrum to public safety use, and current bills in the House of Representatives (HR 607) and the Senate (S 911) – if passed – would do just that.

"The driving force behind this initiative goes back to the Department of Homeland Security's report on the status of interoperable communications and the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. Both reports suggest that during 9/11 and the days after, communication amongst public safety officials was poor. The systems in place did not allow agencies to talk to one another and thus jeopardized response efforts. Since then, more than $1 billion has been set aside for public safety communications by the federal government." – from Jeff Webster's report.

Analyst's Take

Extreme weather seems to be becoming a norm for many parts of the country, and commercial carriers would be wise to work with agencies to prepare for such events and ensure uninterrupted communication. Additionally, the increasing rise of social media use during emergencies proves the power of technology in relaying vital information. One way to enhance the effectiveness of social media in emergency response and public safety would be to equip officers with smartphones to track latest news and key location points during a disaster. As Hurricane Irene heads inward, we risk the possibility of more mobile service disruption. No matter the result, I'm sure we'll all have cell phone in hand, well-prepared to talk, text or Tweet.

Where were you when the earthquake hit? Did you experience trouble getting through to people? Post your comments here.

Follow me on Twitter @kridleyGovWin.

Innovative data center public-private partnerships

Wayne County is Michigan's largest county and the 15th most populous in the country at 1.8 million residents. Like many counties in the U.S., Wayne has had its share of hard times these last few years. When the recession hit in 2008, the county's general reserve fund dipped to a $10.6 million deficit, and plummeted to $116 million by 2010. The county's technology department has seen a steady decline in spending from fiscal years 2008-2009 to 2010-2011.

At last month's 76th Annual National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference and Exposition, several county officials, vendors and IT professionals united to discuss policies and issues affecting counties nationwide and collaborate on ideas for shaping a bright future despite dwindling budgets. In a session focused on survival and "innovation amidst economic turmoil," Enterprise Computing and Infrastructure Director David Edwards highlighted Wayne County's recent cost-reduction successes. When detailing Wayne County's many challenges, Edwards stressed the heavy toll of its data center, which the county housed itself. Wayne County had an extremely outdated data center with aging and failing infrastructure, including a flooding problem. The county continuously delayed revamping the center due to the expensive relocation and rebuilding price tag. Edwards noted that oftentimes governments are also slow to upgrade varied and antiquated technology due to lack of IT knowledge and standardization, which leads to duplicated services and high maintenance costs.

After examining the county's data center challenges, Edwards explored public-private partnerships in hopes of finding a solution. He said he wanted to partner with an organization with proven success in order to form a model that reduced costs and stimulated growth for the county. He also aimed to redirect efforts toward services that offered value and created efficiencies.

The county partnered with Secure-24 in early 2009 to provide data center services and consolidate all IT infrastructure across two Michigan facilities. Through the partnership, Wayne County still manages its own servers in data center operations, but no longer has to worry about facility management or possible infrastructure problems such as power outages or flooding. The data centers are highly secure and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are linked to a facility in Arizona, so if operations are ever interrupted in one center, services are taken over by another. The data centers run on an uninterruptable source of power in disaster mode through two redundant power networks. In the event of power failure, a large-capacity generator supplies power to run the center for several days.

In the two years since partnering with Secure-24, Wayne County has reduced data center operational costs by 50 percent while stimulating economic growth and attracting more business to the region. Edwards said the facilities serve as a foundation for supporting and expanding e-government initiatives and many local governments have approached Wayne County in wanting to learn more about data center consolidation. He also noted the benefit of the county leveraging Secure-24's professional services such as application hosting and firewall management. Edwards closed his presentation with a few words of wisdom. He encouraged localities to "move quickly when implementing change to avoid dying on the vine due to slow-moving wheels." While innovation can spur resistance and fear, Edwards noted that "very few game-changing ideas ever began with positive consensus."

Data center initiatives are spreading swiftly across the states. Deltek recently released a report highlighting data center consolidation projects and providing vendors with a comprehensive overview of requirements that will be sought by states.

For the complete recap of sessions attended at the 76th Annual NACo Conference and Exposition, go here.

Follow me on Twitter @kridleyGovWin.

Videoconferencing a “game changer” in economic growth

The National Association of Counties (NACo) held its 76th Annual Conference and Exposition in Multnomah County, Ore. July 15-19, 2011. Several county officials, vendors and IT professionals attended the event to discuss policies and issues affecting counties nationwide and collaborate on ideas for shaping a bright future despite tough economic times.

In a session on how IT can prepare counties for future success, Dr. Norman Jacknis, director of Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Public Sector Group, touted the benefits of Internet videoconferencing. Jacknis proclaimed videoconferencing as a "game changer" that's only at the start of its global impact. In a recent forecast from the Cisco Visual Networking Index, business videoconferencing is reported to grow sixfold from 2010 to 2015 at a compound annual growth rate of 41 percent. Additional highlights from the report include:

  • Global Internet video traffic surpassed global peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic in 2010, and by 2012, Internet video will account for more 50 percent of consumer Internet traffic
  • 1 million minutes of video content will cross the global IP network every second in 2015
  • Internet video is now 40 percent of consumer Internet traffic, and will reach 62 percent by the end of 2015, not including the amount of video exchanged through P2P file sharing
  • Internet video to TV tripled in 2010. Internet video-to-TV will continue to grow at a rapid pace, increasing 17-fold by 2015. Internet video-to-TV will be over 16 percent of consumer Internet video traffic in 2015, up from 7 percent in 2010
  • Video-on-demand traffic will triple by 2015. The amount of VoD traffic in 2015 will be equivalent to 3 billion DVDs per month
  • High-definition video-on-demand will surpass standard definition by the end of 2011. By 2015, high-definition Internet video will comprise 77 percent of VoD

Jacknis stressed the need for Internet video and noted that 93 percent of daily communication is nonverbal. He reported that by 2030, the world will achieve a ubiquitous video communication standard. According to a study conducted by Nielsen and the International Data Corporation, the number of Internet video users in the U.S. will grow from nearly 150 million to approximately 180.5 million by 2015.

As videoconferencing continues its rise, physical proximity will no longer dominate communication. This also aligns with the ever-shifting shape of corporate America. As harsh economic realities make their mark, businesses are turning to technology to do more with less. Large organizations can no longer be relied on for significant job and economic growth. Instead, they are turning to global supply chains, outsourcing, contractors instead of employees, and global presence as opposed to one main location.

With the high cost of office space, many companies are implementing remote work environments with Internet video as a main source of communication. This not only cuts costs of office space, it reduces travel costs, eases interview processes, boosts employee retention rates, and allows businesses to recruit talent nationwide without a barrier of physical location. Increased productivity is also a benefit reported in many studies.

State and local governments are now starting to utilize video tools in procurement processes through virtual pre-proposal conferences. By not requiring interested vendors to attend an in-person conference to bid on a project, agency's can increase proposal submission rates and vendor participation. Vendors are more likely to partake in a recorded virtual meeting to avoid travel costs, and are less likely to protest a bid or send agencies repetitive email or phone inquiries.

Outside of business and economic advantages, more and more communities are looking to video tools to stimulate health care efforts. Jacknis highlighted Burlington, VT's Telecare for Rural Health Project, which provides a two-way interactive video and audio tai chi exercise class for seniors. Additionally, video technology is reshaping the medical field as diagnoses, consultations, and even surgery are being conducted remotely. With remote health care, patients can access specialists from around the globe, physicians can easily exchange expertise, and the number of patients seen can increase.

Further, there's no denying the obvious green appeal of video IT, with environmental benefits ranging from fuel and greenhouse gas reduction to decreasing cost-of-living expenses.

As videoconferencing continues to shape the future, more and more state and local entities are looking to implement video tools to aid in daily operations. Here is a look at a few videoconferencing opportunities in the GovWin: Deltek Information Solutions database.

  • Opportunity 60774: On May 3, 2011, Alaska released a request for proposals (RFP) for professional services for a video technology interoperability systems study. This study will look at the practicality of rolling out video technology through the Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement business processes.
  • Opportunity 71894: The county of Los Angeles released a request for information (RFI) for a consolidated video conferencing purchase program on June 9, 2011, in which responses were due by on June 28, 2011. The county is currently reviewing responses in preparation for a formal RFP release.
  • Opportunity 66798: The state of Idaho's current contracts for video teleconferencing equipment and services are set to expire September 2011, and if all options are exercised, could extend to September 2013. GovWin is monitoring this project for any rebids or contract extensions, and will update upon release of new information.

Analyst's Take

Video technology is not only heating up in states and localities, it is on the rise worldwide. This growing effort results in a fiercely competitive vendor landscape. With this comes a decrease in product cost; therefore, it is essential vendors work to provide a solution that appeals to agency budget straps while offering a breadth of features. In closing his presentation, Jacknis said "local collaborations among business, academia, and government, and global collaborations with innovators around the world" are the keys to IT shaping a thriving future economy.

Agencies are looking for solutions with a wide range of benefits, including simultaneous webcam feeds, instant messaging, file sharing, VoIP, multiple live video streams, website sharing, and electronic whiteboard capabilities. Cloud-based solutions are also a plus as many government entities explore branching to cloud services. Lastly, the ability to interoperate with other vendor solutions will give your product a leg up in today's market, as will a solution that allows for significant on-screen movement without a declining frame rate.

Health care and social services June review

Arkansas made great strides in the Medicaid and health information technology (HIT) arenas in June, with the release of three requests for proposals (RFPs) for the planning, development, and implementation of its Arkansas Medicaid Enterprise (AME). The state initially planned to release 23 individual RFPs, but after multiple revisions to its strategic plan, the state settled on just three RFPs for an AME core system, AME professional services, and AME products. The state also released a request for information (RFI) that takes the place of an RFP for an integrated electronic health record (EHR) solution for the Department of Public Health. Additionally, the state awarded a health benefits exchange consultant contract to First Data.

Also on the Medicaid front, Louisiana – after issuing an intent to award its Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) replacement contract to CNSI, Inc. – is subsequently handling protests filed by ACS State Healthcare LLC and Molina Medicaid Solutions, both of which competed for the lucrative contract. These companies speculate that CNSI, Inc. received special treatment from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' (DHH) Secretary Bruce Greenstein, who was employed with the company from 2005 to 2006.

Also noteworthy, the New York Department of Health (DOH), Office of Health Insurance Programs (OHIP), awarded the HIT Operational Support Services for the Provider Incentive Payment Program to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).

Other notable solicitations released in June include:

  • Iowa: The state of Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME), released an RFP for IME System Services on June 6, 2011.
  • Illinois: The state of Illinois DHS released an RFP for FY 2012 Illinois Human Services and Healthcare Framework today. The RFP covers the assistance, research, documentation, analysis, and planning for the development and implementation of the enterprise solution.
  • Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Department of Administration/Division of Purchases, on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program released an RFP for a WIC Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) System Feasibility Study and Cost Analysis on June 15, 2011.
  • District of Columbia: The District of Columbia Office of Contracting and Procurement, on behalf of the DOH WIC State Agency, released an RFP on June 20, 2011 for assisting DC WIC in developing plans for the implementation of a WIC EBT system.
Upcoming procurements in the health care and social services arena include:

  • Florida: The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) may have a requirement for a vendor to provide evaluation services for the statewide health information exchange (HIE). The HIE Coordinating Council (HIECC) held a meeting on May 20, 2011, in which the potential performance measures to be tracked by the future evaluation vendor were discussed.
  • Iowa: The state of Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa e-Health, released an RFI for Technical Assistance to Providers Adopting and Implementing EHR Systems and Connecting to the Statewide HIE on June 8, 2011.
  • New Mexico: The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) may release an RFP for Child Support Enforcement System (CSES) Services. The department released an RFI on June 17, 2011.
  • Texas: The Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of State Health Services may have a requirement for an EBT system to support the Summer Nutrition Program. The departments, in conjunction with ABT Associates, are conducting a pilot study in summer 2011 that will engage 2,500 randomly selected children in the El Paso, TX area.
  • Maine: The Health Data Workgroup to the Maine Advisory Council on Health Systems Development identified the redesign of the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) as a future goal for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. According to a report by Deloitte Consulting, the current APCD is inadequate at providing timely, actionable information to providers. The future APCD must be capable of providing real-time data to all users of the APCD.
With the June federal appeals court ruling that Congress can require all Americans to carry some form of health insurance coverage, states will certainly be busy planning for the procurement of health insurance exchange (HIX) systems in the coming months. While some states including New Mexico and Alaska have focused on battling the national health insurance mandate, they will likely switch gears and begin focusing on developing statewide plans for the planning, development, and implementation of these systems.

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