State lines

Infogration in New York. The Center for Technology in Government at the State University of New York in Albany is taking a two-year, hands-on look at information integration projects in two state agencies: the State Police and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

With $1.2 million in National Science Foundation funding, the center will 'lend staff and resources, advice and management services to help them do integration,' communication manager Mark LaVigne said. 'We proposed six state-level projects [to NSF], but that may change along the way. If we have the opportunity, we may model federal projects as well.'

The center's eight-member study team has expertise in administration, communications, computer science, information management and public policy. After completing the first phase at the New York agencies, the team will move out to similar projects in other states. They will conclude with a national survey to validate their integration models.

Call for backup. Kathy Ange, an IT specialist with Virginia's Agriculture and Consumer Services Department, recently migrated the department's data from an old mainframe to a Sun Microsystems Inc. server running Solaris.

The department found an affordable disk-to-disk data protection unit from UniTrends Software Corp. of Myrtle Beach, S.C. It came with UniTrends' BareMetal Plus software, which lets administrators restore PCs or notebook computers within 10 minutes after a crash. The department backs up its four Sun Solaris servers to the unit, and every morning it synchronizes over to another disk.

One recent day, a user came to Ange after losing two files. 'It took longer to go through the graphical screens to pick out what I wanted to restore than it took to do the actual restore,' which took a little over a minute, Ange said.

Systems of yore. It's no longer easy to be a state CIO, Larry Singer, former CIO of Georgia, told a panel of state IT officials at Federal Sources Inc.'s 9th annual State of the States conference in Washington this month.

When he arrived in July 2000 to head up the Georgia Technology Authority, Singer, who resigned as Georgia CIO late last year, struggled to understand how Georgia was spending more than $1 billion each year on IT, much of it for embedded systems that don't show up as line items in the state budget. For example, Georgia's child support system costs $19 million a year to 'keep it from crapping out,' Singer said. The 16-year-old system uses a database written in Total, an obsolete database language.

Singer said technology seems to have gone out of fashion in the past few years. 'E-gov is my least favorite word,' he said. 'Back in the '90s, e-anything was hot. Everybody wanted government to use technology the way business did. But the idea of being a technology governor has come and gone except for the people who really understand government, and understand that technology is woven into what government does, which is mostly transactions.'

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