Articles

California's CIO Outlines Projects, Progress

A long list of projects -- from laptop encryption to service-oriented architecture, new strategic sourcing initiatives and a revamp of the state's Web portal

by / December 15, 2005
"We have turned the corner and are making rapid progress on quite a few fronts," began California State CIO Clark Kelso yesterday, as he keynoted the Best of California Conference in Sacramento. Kelso provided a long list of projects -- from laptop encryption to service-oriented architecture, new strategic sourcing initiatives and a revamp of the state's Web portal -- that are under way or are coming up. His edited remarks follow.

Clark Kelso

We don't have a giant IT budget anywhere, we don't have a giant IT governance structure in place, nevertheless we are moving forward and have had a lot of good IT procurement this year. Just before the State of the State, we had a very nice joint licensing of a Computer Associates product with Franchise Tax Board, and Department of Technology Services, that was a better than a best-in-class contract according to our third-party reviewer. We now have a shared cooperative license with Microsoft -- it's an extraordinarily good enterprise-volume purchase, that all departments have access to, based on a contract worked out for Riverside County. It's an extraordinarily good opportunity for the state, and a sign that we really are back on track with IT procurement.

The way this contract works, you have to buy a certain number of seats to get the benefits -- something like 20-25, and you have to buy 100 more to get a few other benefits. But you can join departments to aggregate their purchases to get up to those levels. So I'm going to be sponsoring a meeting of all departments who are interested in participating in a single joint-aggregate purchase. We'll do that over at the Department of General Services, I suspect, and see if we can't help out the smaller departments that really can benefit from that contract.

We recently concluded enterprise-server strategic sourcing, and we're continuing to see good benefits out of the strategic sourcing project, and DTS is now looking at how we can provide service to departments in the area of legacy conversion. So there's a lot of good procurement activities.

Human resources issues have been one of our big strategic areas, we have now gone from a lot of planning, to having top executive sponsorship of our HR efforts. We're making fantastic progress on the classification and testing projects, and are having very positive discussions with all stakeholders, including representatives of the union. I can actually see this happening sometime next year. The Department of Personnel Administration is undertaking a compensation survey, IT is part of that. We have a number of departments looking at succession planning, and I'm hopeful that as a few of those succession plans are completed, I'm going to be able to share those with all departments so you can see how the next department is doing.

In cabinet-level discussions, the IT community is recognized as being ahead of everybody else in addressing most of these issues -- classification, testing, succession planning -- a testament to all the great work that you all are doing.

As to security, we have some policy developments to work through with the Department of Finance, and the IT Council Security Committee, most recently with encryption. We had a positive legislative hearing dealing with encryption on laptops. Positive because all of you responded to a drill we had on laptops with who has a laptop and what's on it. And, because we have the good judgment to get ahead of the encryption issues. There are still going to be some implementation issues.

Our IT acquisition committee is meeting this week to begin discussions on how we can do a strategic sourcing of encryption solutions. So that we do one big purchase, instead of having each department having to go through its own frenzied procurement.

On business management systems -- another aspect of our strategic plan -- includes financial accounting, procurement, asset management. We're going from having just plans by the IT community, to real involvement and commitment by executive sponsors. DGS is taking real leadership on asset management, doing surveys of information, figuring out how they can provide better asset management services. The Department of Finance is chairing an interagency committee that's looking at a coordinated approach to business management systems. We're quite pleased with that leadership because without finance, you're going to flop.

So there's just an extraordinary amount of work going on. We have good enterprise architecture work, being undertaken under the auspices of the IT Council Enterprise Architecture Committee, I've had a team that I've assembled, on loan to me from around government, they've put out their first draft on service oriented architecture that's on my CIO Web site.

The Portal Review Board referred that document back to the IT Council Enterprise Architecture Committee, with the request that they do a comprehensive review and edit of that document. It is a very technical document. I would encourage all of you to take a look at that document. If you have comments, questions, and you want to participate in the review of it, e-mail Dale Jablonsky and/or Steve Clemons, because I'm pretty confident we are moving in that direction, and there will come a time when we will get close to saying, we will just have to use this. I avoid mandates as much as I can, but this may be one where at the end of the day we just have to say "if you are going to be participating at all in the state's Internet presence, you'll need to have -- to some extent -- acquiescence in or [be] following it." We may be going in that direction, and I take that document pretty seriously right now.

We also have quite a few new sites that are being done. The Franchise Tax Board, has new Web pages. They've got a great new business-oriented site, a lot cleaner, a lot easier to use. And I've asked the Board of Equalization and EDD if they'd take a look at that site, and maybe there's a way that all those tax agencies can somehow magically end up on a taxes Web site.

The Department of Managed Health Care, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Department of Health Services, and others are engaged in reviews of their Web sites. The overriding interest that I have is in making sure they are customer-centric. Serve your customers, don't worry about yourself, don't worry about government -- we'll take care of ourselves, we'll still be here. Worry about your customer.

We have reached an agreement on some basic design, architecture, principles for the next version of the state's portal. And we have agreed that we will transition from the existing portal infrastructure to something new. The Department of Technology Services Board has agreed to permit the DTS to do an RFI early next year, maybe in January -- to get some suggestions from industry ... on portal infrastructure -- with an anticipated RFP sometime next year.

So we're not just talking about it, action is being taken. We'll see what the RFI produces. PK [PK Agarwal, DTS Director] has an aggressive timetable for trying to build out a basic infrastructure [around which we can begin] to build the state's Internet presence. It will be a decentralized content management structure. I'm convinced that the only way we can possibly provide services to the public is if the departments maintain primary ownership and responsibility for their own content and services. Our goal is not to take over that function, our goal is to provide those services in the most cost-effective way possible, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel 60 times over.
Wayne Hanson

Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.