Kansans seek IT that is practical and efficient

Kansans seek IT that is practical and efficient

Chief information technology officer Don Heiman says people in Kansas want government information technology to be practical and cost-effective.

Technology chief says the way to share resources statewide is through networks

By Trudy Walsh

GCN Staff

Don Heiman, chief information technology officer (CITO) of Kansas and director of the Information Systems and Communications Division (DISC), received a bachelor's degree in business from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., in 1969, a master's in business and a master's of public administration from the University of Kansas at Lawrence, and a master's in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans. He also has professional certifications as a government financial manager and an information systems controller.

Who's In Charge

Don Heiman

'''Chief Information Technology

'''Officer and Director,
'''Information Systems and Communications Division

Andy Scharf

Public Service Executive,

Telecommunications Bureau

Tim Blevins

Chief Information Officer,

Revenue Department

Ben Nelson

CIO, Transportation Department


Sources: Kansas Administration

Department's Information Systems

and Communications Division

Heiman has worked for the Kansas government since 1976, when he was director of performance audits. He has been director of DISC since 1995; in 1998 he was appointed CITO. In his DISC role, Heiman manages an organization of 220 people and a network of 40,000 telephones and 18,000 computers.

HEIMAN: DISC is fee for service. We don't get any state appropriations. Every three years we call GartnerGroup Inc. [of Stamford, Conn.], and they benchmark our rates.

They take the value of your work and divide it by the cost. The number behaves like a golf score'the lower the score, the better off you are. Then they compare that number, called a normalized workload, against all other companies in the GartnerGroup database. Their database norm for data centers is 1. For government data centers, it's 1.21. Our rating is .60, so that tells me we're producing work of high quality at a very attractive price.

We also do customer satisfaction research. I survey state agencies that are using our services with a six-position scale: 1, 2 and 3 are negative, 4 and 5 are positive. Six is a perfect score. There is no neutral position here. Our satisfaction score on six dimensions of service in areas such as timeliness, quality and price is 5.97.

People in Kansas want information technology that is practical and cost-effective. It's the same attitude Kansans used to have about barn raisings. We applied that same concept of everybody pitching in to deal with the year 2000 problem. It taught us some profound lessons on how to work together. For example, I had an old VM operating system.

The employee who had built that system got a job at another agency. I got a quote from a contractor on how it much it would cost to update the VM system'it was hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the agency let us use our former employee to update the system instead, and it cost us only $4,500.

Another side benefit of the year 2000 program was that it was the first time we knew our inventory. Now we know what to twilight'our IBM Systems Network Architecture, for instance'and what we want to move toward. We're thinking about moving to an asynchronous transfer mode network; we will definitely be moving to Category 7 copper wiring from our current standard of Category 5.


Information Network of Kansas'The state's electronic government portal can be accessed at www.ink.org. The Legislature established INK in 1990.

Automated State Tax and Revenue Administration'American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., worked with the Revenue Department for five years to develop this earn-as-you-go client-server tax system.

Welfare Reform System'The $10 million project includes the Vision card, a benefits debit card.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation'KBI transmits criminal- history data to the FBI over the Internet via a virtual private network.

Pass the bread

Kansas is a rural state. We think of ourselves as the nation's breadbasket. The cycles of nature are very important to Kansans. I see this reverence for the land even in my DISC employees. I'm very careful how I schedule the work during harvest season, because I have technologists who want to go out and cut grain. Kansans are fiercely independent, yet they have a remarkable community spirit.

I think the way the state is laid out played an important part in how far we've advanced technologically. The eastern side of the state is more urban, with Topeka, Kansas City and both state universities. We needed a way to share those eastside resources with the rest of the state. The way to do that is through networks. The whole state was wired by 1987 or 1988.

We have a proposal in front of the Legislature right now, and if it's approved we'll be the first state to offer Internet 2.


Kansas Wide Area Information Network'The voice, video and data network connects 18,000 computers. KANWin runs on a high-speed backbone.
Kansas Agency Network'Kans-A-N is the voice component of KANWin. It operates at 100 percent uptime. The network also has a video component used for telemedicine.

Data Centers'The centers comprise shared mainframes, including an Amdahl Corp. OS 390 mainframe that's rated at 424 million instructions per second, scalable to 650 MIPS. State payroll, tax, judicial case management and agricultural operations are run on a SunSoft Solaris platform.

Central Mail Function'The Information Systems and Communications Division runs an automated system for postal mail. Thirteen employees meter, bar code, sort, strap and manifest each piece of mail addressed to the state, at a rate of 22,000 pieces per hour. The Postal Service gives the division 6.5 cents postage per piece for this service.

Systems and Programming'The division is responsible for all computer applications for the Administration Department, including state accounting systems and budget systems.

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