When the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) officially assumed technological control of the state's agencies, Larry Singer identified four priorities to help the state achieve a kind of cohesion never before enjoyed. But before he could get started, there was a staff to build and resources to acquire. Now only a year and a half after taking the job, Larry Singer is strengthening Georgia's hold on IT.
What were you faced with as your CIO tenure began?
The first year is very much about strategy, structure and building an organization (there were four of us when we started; now there's around 1,000) by consolidating resources from other agencies. So much was agency building, strategy development and vision creation. We're now into an implementation mode in a big way. And all those things that we helped implement are the fruits of the labor of the first year.
Why did Gov. Barnes transfer the IT and telecommunications services from the Department of Administrative Services to the GTA?
The DAS had an outstanding group of technology folks who were responsible for service delivery. We needed access to those people on a regular basis to help us define strategy and policy. At the same time, strategy and policy are not useful without the mechanism to get them implemented. So we also needed those folks as implementers. Before that transfer, GTA was largely a standards oversight and procurement organization. We needed to establish another dimension of our relationship with agencies and that dimension had to be with them as our customer. By taking that over, we had the opportunity to serve agencies, not just direct [them]. And it's a lot easier to build a collaborative environment when you have those different facets of a relationship.
What are your priorities for Georgia technology for 2002?
One of our major priorities is the Converge Communications Outsourcing Project. [We will be issuing] a contract to an outsourcing provider to help us upgrade the state's entire telecommunications infrastructure - meaning voice data, video, transport, wireless, two-way radio. This outsourcing project is to bring us good price value through competition and to ensure we have consistency and high-level service throughout the state. Our second major initiative is what I would call the IT utility. This initiative has two primary components: modernizing our centralized data processing facilities and consolidating a scattered inconsistent server environment into a consolidated hosted facility. The third major initiative revolves around a portal/interoperability architecture. The interoperability across agencies will allow a citizen to have an experience that is centered around them, rather than a specific agency program or function. We expect it to include a variety of different software products from a CRM-type function and middleware-type function to Web services capability. This interoperability architecture will allow the architecture to support interface activities rather than having to write custom interfaces between applications. The fourth major initiative involves security, disaster recovery and continuity of service.
Why the interest in television and radio broadcasts?
The FCC has required analog stations to convert to digital. There's a tremendous capital investment required to do that. As we build this convergent environment, you [will be able to] use the same network that you use for data and voice transport to send a signal. When you do, the opportunity is not just traditional broadcasts, but it supports distance learning and distance medicine and other kinds of two-way video interactions that can use the same bandwidth capability.