INTERVIEW

Georgia preps for 2000 by modernizing

Georgia CIO Mike

Most of the state's Y2K funds go toward replacing infrastructure, many systems

By Claire E. House

GCN Staff

Georgia chief information officer Mike Hale, who heads the 4-year-old Georgia Information Technology Policy Council, has held a second title over the past couple of years: year 2000 project manager. He has led the state's massive modernization and remediation program to both bring systems up to par and prepare them for next year.

Hale works with a small staff and the council, which consists of government and industry experts who meet periodically to formulate state information technology policy. His office works closely with the IT Division of the state's Administrative Services Department, which implements statewide projects and runs centralized data services. Many state agencies also run their own IT shops.

The setup may change soon, however. New Gov. Roy Barnes is developing an IT management plan expected to be released by late summer.

HALE: My job right now has been policy and planning. Year 2000 is in fact the No. 1 issue and is keeping us very occupied. The council has set in place the year 2000 management structure, funding, policies and standards, and we're just going heads down, getting it done. The council itself has not been too active over the past year because of that fact.

It's interesting that as we wind up year 2000 work, we're waiting for Gov. Roy Barnes and his new technology management team to determine how the council and my office will fit in to his new management plan.

In Georgia, we're spending $378 million on year 2000, which is more money per capita than any other state. We did it consciously because we had to modernize at the same time we remediated. And that's unique. Two-thirds of our year 2000 funding has gone into modernization rather than straight remediation.

Our infrastructure was old, and it was beginning to show a lot of cracks and give us a lot of problems, even before year 2000 concerns.

We were working in a keep-it-patched-together-to-stay-alive mentality, and we had some serious instances in which systems were failing.

As programs became more complicated and expectations rose, we had a lot of difficulty keeping up. Then the tidal wave of year 2000 hit, and that just added more to our plate.

We began looking at year 2000 readiness in 1996 and began initial inventory and assessment in early 1997. It's just been a ramp-up
ever since. The number of baseline hours we're extending is 2.06 million, and we're devoting 1,197 state employees and 1,321 contractors to the effort.

Tax overhaul

We have 379 mission-critical projects. It's not uncommon for an organization to have year 2000 affect that many systems, but we had so many to modernize also.

We have rewritten our withholding tax, individual income tax and corporate income tax systems. We're replacing our statewide financial system, which handles payroll and human resources support for 68,000 state employees, as well as budgeting and accounting.

We are replacing our tag and title system, which is obviously a major system in the state. We're replacing our internal customer billing and problem tracking system within our main data center. We're also replacing our major public health system, and our entire statewide library acquisition and circulation system.

In addition, we're replacing a lot of our infrastructure. We're rolling out significant new frame relay circuits throughout the state to accommodate the new technology we're developing. We're also replacing 16,890 PCs in a statewide rollout that began in May.

Another feature that we're very proud of is our IBM Corp. G4 readiness testing environment for our 50 mission-critical mainframe systems. We've spent a lot of resources and time setting it up to make sure that the final year 2000 mainframe tests are in accordance with industry standards.

As of May, we were 70 percent complete with either replacing or fixing systems. We expect to be 94 percent complete by this month, so we're ramping up completion to be set up at a very good pace. The final test schedule will span from now until the end of October.

So what happens next? Gov. Barnes definitely has technology on his agenda. He wants to create an electronic government and place Georgia as a leading state for technology. And I think he sees that the investments we made in modernization are going to create a platform and a good foundation for supporting him in that.








DEPARTMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
MAJOR PROGRAMS
Georgia IT Policy Council'Determines state IT policy, oversees statewide strategic planning and runs the year 2000 project office.

Administrative Services Department IT Division'Runs the state's network operations center, implements statewide IT projects, and provides centralized computer and telecommunications services.
Y2K and Modernization Work'Overhauls Georgia's WAN as well as its major systems, including tax, human resources, payroll, accounting, vehicle registration and library systems.









Talk the talk

Any chief information officer these days has got to be very close with the administration as a supporting resource that understands government business and the particular challenges it has. Technology is so much a central part of the fabric of managing that I want to become, I need to become, we all need to become, key management advisers on how governments need to operate, not just on running computers.

Therefore, we need to communicate in the right language and understand what our administrations' special challenges are, or we're not going to be effective.

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