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Gary Brantley

CIO, Atlanta

Gary Brantley
When Chief Information Officer Gary Brantley came to Atlanta in 2018, the city was still recuperating from a massive ransomware attack that ultimately cost more than $2.6 million. Brantley immediately took measure of the city’s IT environment, flagged its inadequacies and began to prioritize.

He said he started with “operational basics,” vetting and hiring the kind of staff he’d need, making a list of expectations and investing in basic infrastructure — increasing bandwidth, segmenting the city’s network, assessing the security tools at his disposal, and tweaking or refining some of the technology already in place.

“We took a lot of time to focus on modernizing and strengthening our infrastructure,” he said. “I had a 12-month road map with a 5-5-5 plan, which is, what can we do in five days, what can we do in five weeks and what can we do in five months? We measured and monitored that, and it ended up being around 57 projects.”

Brantley also established Atlanta’s first cybersecurity program, including an incident response plan, tabletop exercises for employees, identifying critical areas of need for business continuity and disaster recovery, and developing an effective way to measure the overall maturity of the city’s IT.

To avoid ballooning Atlanta’s IT budget with investments, his team also did a deep dive to find any redundancies among the city’s almost 500 applications — “What should we modernize, tolerate or terminate?” as he put it — and saved close to $3 million in annual costs last year.

For citizen-facing projects, Brantley formed the Chief Information Officer Advisory Board, a 17-member group of regional, private and public technology leaders. He said their focus has been on the mayor’s priorities, things like digital inclusion, homelessness, sex trafficking, housing affordability and infrastructure. They launched an affordable-housing tracker and dashboard, set up a public banking platform, and even got AT&T and Sprint to donate more than 200 wireless access points to underserved communities.
Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.