Barahmi takes an enterprise approach

Barahmi takes an enterprise approach<@VM>Web site helping agency dig out of paperwork

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Who's in charge

Kim Barahmi

Acting State CIO

Romeo Nelson

Deputy State CIO

Nelson Hill

Chief Operating Officer

Charles Ghini

Chief Technology Officer

Major projects

  • E-procurement system: The Technology Office is developing technical requirements and a business process to implement an electronic procurement system by early next year.

  • Network convergence: The office is studying how to consolidate voice, video and data networks for all state agencies.

  • integration: Officials want to link county and other local-government Web sites to the state portal so transactions such as payment of fines and voter registration can be integrated statewide.

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act changes: Technical and business staff members are working on a statewide approach to new federal health care data transmission standards.

  • Selected Florida technology expenditures for fiscal 2001


    Telecommunications Services$185.2
    Information Services$28.5
    Wireless Services$25.5
    State Technology Office$4.5

    Source: State Technology Office

    'The approach we have chosen may appear to be slow, but in the long run, it will produce more efficiencies and [improve] delivery of government services,' Kim Barahmi said.

    When Kim Barahmi, Florida's acting CIO, went in front of the Legislature to advocate a plan for consolidating the state's IT programs under the State Technology Office, she spoke from experience.

    Barahmi worked for Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego for 13 years and while there helped lead a project to fuse the Army, Navy and Air Force's health care systems worldwide. In the end, the five-year project saved the government $1.2 billion, she said.

    So when she explained to the state's senators and representatives why using an enterprise approach would save the state money and time, Barahmi used her SAIC experience to sell the idea.

    Barahmi was thrust into the CIO role in September when former agency head Roy Cales resigned. Cales was charged with grand theft stemming from allegations that he forged a letter to obtain a $35,000 loan that went into default. The incident happened before Cales worked for the state.

    Florida's IT infrastructure is made up of separate stovepipe systems throughout 33 agencies. The service the agencies share most often is a voice, data and video network.

    Consolidate IT staff

    Barahmi, Cales' former chief of staff, is advancing a plan Cales started to transfer 65 administrative and 2,000 state IT workers to the technology office. She also wants to reassign to her office many daily functions such as help desk assistance, Web site development and network administration, as well as consolidate the state's data centers and oversee all IT policies, standards and procedures.

    Barahmi seeks to reorganize the 14 cabinet-level agencies immediately and the state's other 19 departments later.

    She said her experience with the military helped her plan the transition to the enterprise organization.

    'It is important to balance differing views and develop and keep good relationships,' she said.

    Gov. Jeb Bush first voiced the need for an enterprise approach for the state's IT needs, and the technology office has taken initial steps toward that goal. Barahmi, and Cales before her, set up knowledge domains of five to six similar agencies. Each domain has a chief technology officer who reports to the deputy CIO and acts as the main point of contact on IT matters.

    'When the technology office was created, we had too many points of access from agencies. It was too much to manage,' Barahmi said. 'The domains allow us to consolidate the points of access and streamline communications.'

    Too much power?

    The lack of communication caused agencies to make decisions in a silo, Barahmi said. She intends for the enterprise approach to change the way the state works so information will flow horizontally.

    Even though the enterprise approach is widely used in state governments, the lawmakers voiced concerns about giving too much power to one agency. Barahmi created an IT Governance Council made up of private- and public-sector IT workers to help quell those fears.

    The council will advise on IT spending and help balance agency needs, Barahmi said.

    In addition to changing the way Florida agencies look at IT, Barahmi is working to improve the state's systems infrastructure so disparate agency networks and systems will work together.

    'Addressing these infrastructure requirements is not flashy or exciting, but it is so important to have this foundation so we can do other things,' she said. 'Getting the Legislature to put money into infrastructure really is my biggest challenge.'

    Barahmi said that having a well-built infrastructure with more bandwidth and speed is essential for the state's other IT initiatives.

    'The approach we have chosen may appear to be slow, but in the long run, it will produce more efficiencies and [improve] delivery of government services,' Barahmi said. 'We are consolidating the way we manage information technology to eliminate duplication.'Business and Professional Regulations Department employees manually process 40,000 change-of-address forms for state real estate agents each year. And for the 1 million registered licensees in industries such as hotel and restaurant, cosmetology, and alcohol and tobacco sales, the number of forms submitted is staggering.

    So instead of inputting these forms by hand, the agency is in the midst of developing and implementing a system that allows residents to manage their licenses, log complaints and pay fees online.

    Four components'Web licensing, call center, technical support outsourcing and business re-engineering'will make up the $50 million system when completed. Currently, the site allows users to apply for, renew and maintain licenses, pay by credit card for a license and search licensee profiles.

    Paperless system

    'We are trying to take the small activities and put them online so we can focus more on our core job,' said Scott Stewart, director of the re-engineering project for the department. 'We hope to be a paperless system by the time we are finished.'

    The department contracted with Accenture LLP of Chicago for $16 million to integrate the licensing system. Accenture also could make an additional $20 million by providing technical support and services for the system and $14 million through a cost-benefit-sharing arrangement with the state.

    The licensing system runs in a Sun Microsystems and Oracle environment on the back end and a Microsoft SQL database on the Web front end.

    The site's next enhancement will allow residents to Web chat with agency employees if they have a question when filling out an application. The state worker will be able to see the page the resident is on and give them assistance in real time. Stewart said that feature will come when voice over IP is installed.

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