government cloud solutions

Cloud, cybersecurity solutions earn NASCIO honors

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) recently announced winners of its 2014 State IT Recognition Awards for outstanding achievement.

In announcing the winners at its annual conference, NASCIO said the awards support the idea that “successful information technology initiatives in state government deserve to be shared in order to promote innovation, foster better government, and engage citizens.”

The projects were chosen across a range of disciplines, including cross-boundary partnerships and cybersecurity and government-to-citizen service.

In the category of enterprise IT, the winning project was the University of Georgia’s GeorgiaView Desire2Learn, a learning management system aimed at creating a single platform through which all students can collaborate and access course materials.

The software-as-a-service application was hosted in the university’s PeachNet private cloud, offering more than 160,000 courses to more than 310,000 students and making it the largest private-cloud deployment of the Desire2Learn platform in the world.

Using the university’s Ingress middleware solution, the learning management system also supports systemwide analytics, including those that predict student success on a course level, and Massive Open Online Courses. By hosting the system in its private cloud, the University of Georgia said it is saving more than $7.5 million compared to public cloud hosting.

In the category of cross-boundary partnership, NASCIO chose the Oregon Interoperability Service (OIS), an automated computer-to-computer message service for emergency service dispatch and service centers to share incident data across jurisdictions in real time.

The OIS provides text-based information of incident data and requests for aid, in coordination with incident response between the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Transportation and county officials.

A project by the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide threat analysis of its cyberattack data took top honors in NASCIO’s cybersecurity category.

Beginning in January of last year, the Virginia Information Technology Agency began a full scale threat analysis of the state’s cyber attack data to explore a trend in successful attacks.

Virginia identified two significant attack vectors – including local administrative rights (LAR)  processes and the use of Java programming – which it used to reduce the frequency of the malware incidents.

The project involved standardizing profiles for agency applications to allow LAR only for staff requiring those rights. Java patch levels were also analyzed for each agency and deficiencies were targeted for remediation.

The number of accounts with LAR was reduced from 73,519 to 10,922 – or 85 percent. And  35,000 instances of Java on employee computers were updated to an acceptable level of patching. Future patches now can be pushed centrally with confidence that operations will not be negatively impacted.

NASCIO gave the state of New Mexico top honors for government-to-citizen services in a project that resulted in the state becoming the first in the nation to simultaneously launch a fully integrated unemployment insurance tax and claims system.

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions replaced two separate systems, a 30-year-old tax system and a claims system launched in 2006 but never fully realized. The system for first time provides employers online, real-time access to information about their unemployment insurance costs, tax accounts, benefits charges and tax rates.

Nearly 100 percent of employers now file quarterly taxes online, and three-quarters of employers submit payments electronically. The state says it has reduced unemployment insurance fraud by as much as 60 percent, and improved the quality of claims determinations.

Along with IT projects, NASCIO also named its 2014 State Technology Innovator, Mark Walker, the chief information officer of the Ohio Department of Taxation. Walker helped modernize the tax system including streamlining an IT system architecture that operated 27 major tax systems “residing on aging technologies and operating on three platforms.”

In an earlier award, NASCIO named Dave McClure, associate administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, General Services Administration, as its annual Technology Champion.

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