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California IT Consolidation Report: Some Agencies Miss E-Mail Deadline

Online progress reports to be posted quarterly as part of executive order.

by / July 21, 2010

Photo: Mike Locatis, chief deputy CIO, California/Photo by David Kidd

A recent report on California's IT consolidation progress shows some departments missed a deadline to transition to a new e-mail system, but officials are optimistic they'll comply with the governor's executive order to do so.

The "E-Hub" security and encryption system is meant to protect the state's inbound, outbound and interdepartmental e-mail with an efficient solution that will ensure consistent security policies and processes are implemented statewide, according to the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). It's part of the state's overall IT consolidation efforts to reduce energy use and data center square footage, among other goals.

"Of the 2 million e-mails state employees receive each day, up to 75 percent of them are spam and now blocked from state e-mail systems," an OCIO press release stated. "This achievement ... will significantly decrease processing and network bandwidth, freeing up valuable computing resources utilized by the state."

The report is the first to be posted online since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in February 2010. The order is a "road map to overhaul California's technology infrastructure," and standardize IT governance, increase transparency in spending and define targets to reduce IT operation energy usage by 30 percent by 2012, among other improvements.

Thirty-eight percent of California departments -- including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Office of the Secretary of Education -- didn't meet the June 30 deadline to transition to E-Hub, according to the report, and more than half (51 percent) officially moved to the new system. That said, agencies have until next year to fully migrate to the new system.

On Wednesday, DMV Spokesman Armando Botello conceded the department was behind schedule, but added that the DMV is moving toward migration. "It was a larger and more complex project than most state offices because of the volume of our department," he said. "But it is now in their [OCIO] hands now and as soon as they can accommodate us, we will be migrating."

Mike Locatis, the former Colorado CIO who recently joined the OCIO as chief deputy CIO, said while progress reports should be made available from a comparative standpoint, doing so inevitably reveals areas of deficiency. "It may reveal some delinquency in some areas, but hopefully it shows strength in other areas as well," he said. "You always have stragglers, but there are mechanisms to bring them in line, I'm very confident we'll be able to do that."

An IT policy letter, sent July 15 from the OCIO to department directors, and agency and department CIOs, emphasizes the need for transparency and accountability in reporting such progress.

"Given the current economic circumstances, the state has a compelling need to consolidate information technology services and operations to minimize overlap, redundancy and cost in state operations," the letter stated. "In addition there is an increasing demand for broader transparency and accountability in reporting government activities."

Such reports will be posted at least quarterly, or "when significant progress is made toward one of the EO [executive order] objectives," an OCIO press release stated.

According to the executive order, "Upon notification by the OCIO of substantial non-compliance by an agency, the Department of General Services may reduce or eliminate the IT purchasing authority of such agencies in consultation with the OCIO." Furthermore, Locatis said state CIO Teri Takai is prepared to elevate such issues at the cabinet level. In the meantime, there are ongoing meetings geared toward compliance, he said.

"There are tremendous opportunities on E-Hub for agencies to become more secure and at the same time save agencies money," Locatis said.

Schwarzenegger's executive order requires agencies under his authority to reduce overall energy used for IT and telecommunications equipment, reduce data center square footage, start hosting mission-critical public-facing applications to a Tier 3 data center and transition to the state's shared e-mail solution.


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Karen Wilkinson

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.

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