The year in review
In the past year as state government agencies and private sector businesses have fought for survival under the strain of a severe financial crisis, Commonwealth Office of Technology has focused its efforts on innovation and cost savings.
Commissioner Phil Baughn said an increase of 40 percent greater processing power on the agency’s mainframe has helped state government agencies collectively save millions annually in total computing costs.
The agency also joined the Western States Contracting Alliance, a consortium of state purchasing directors from 15 western states, to leverage lower prices on printers and copiers.
“Through the perseverance and dedication of our employees and the agencies we serve, as well as long-range planning, we found ways to continue moving technology forward while cutting costs and holding service levels during these difficult economic times,” Baughn said.
In addition to a long list of achievements, COT also established no-cost telecommunications auditing services. All savings identified during the audit will be shared between the auditor and the state.
Risk management and quality service delivery
To ensure that the government’s business and emergency operations remain online and accessible, the Commonwealth Data Center is now reliant on redundant power from two different utility grids. The agency upgraded video surveillance at the data center and also elevated the visibility, priority and operational elements of security by creating a chief information security officer position.
“We're determined to achieve the highest level of security possible from our security investments, and we're working hard to convince state government that security is everybody's job,” Chief Information Security Officer Dick Smothermon said.
The agency performed more than 50 application assessments and worked with agencies to ensure the continuity of business operations, and also took steps to improve quality service delivery for its customers by establishing a reliable and cost-effective data backup service for remote offices located outside of Frankfort.
COT also began an extensive migration to a virtualized server environment at the data center that will use less electricity, produce less heat, require less management, and ultimately cost less to deliver.
A new service to help agencies clean up inaccurate and inconsistent data was also introduced by the agency. Using sophisticated tools, data can be cleansed, standardized and validated, regardless of its size or location. Duplicate records can be merged and matched with data pulled from other sources.
“The right thing to do”
COT helped establish the state’s eScrap recycling program to help state agencies dispose of end-of-life computer products and electronics in an environmentally friendly manner.
Creative Recycling Systems of Tampa, Fla., pays state agencies to pick-up the scrap, ensuring only 5 percent or less of that amount reaches the state’s landfills. The company also sanitizes data from all computers and reimburses state agencies for some recycled items based on quantity and/or weight.
During the last year, the agency also:
- Helped put more than 5,000 20-minute phone cards in the hands of soldiers at home and abroad as a result of its participation in the Cell Phones for Soldiers program. The organization sends its old BlackBerries and phones to ReCellular, who, in turn, pays Cell Phones for Soldiers one hour of talk time for each donated phone.
- Provided more than 300 gently used, off-lease PCs to nine state agencies that could not afford to buy new devices. The used PCs were recently replaced during the routine desktop refresh cycle that occurs every three years. Those workstations will be an asset to agencies who otherwise couldn’t afford them.
- Established an enterprise license for geographic information systems software (ESRI) for the Finance Cabinet which is expandable for others to use at reduced rates compared to individual actions.
Working around the clock
During January’s deadly ice storm and other emergencies throughout the year, Kentucky Emergency Warning System employees worked practically around the clock to keep generators running and batteries charged at broadcast tower sites throughout the state. The KEWS network serves a vital role in state and local government, carrying data, video, and voice traffic for a large number of agencies including Kentucky Educational Television, state police, military affairs, emergency management, and hundreds of local police, fire, and emergency medical service agencies.
Deputy Commissioner Robin Morley said the hard work that occurs behind the scenes at COT often goes unnoticed.
"Whether their actions result in costs avoided or reduced, improved security, managed risk, or quality service, the dedication and commitment by COT staff has helped us meet the needs of state agencies in 2009, and for that we are grateful," Morley said.
COT’s Office of Application Development delivered solutions for legislative mandates pertaining to an increase in the state’s cigarette tax and the tax credit for the purchase of a new home. The agency also supported legislative mandates for changes in titling of classic, low-speed and alternate speed motor vehicles, vehicle trade-in tax credits, and graduated drivers licensing.
OAD also developed an application for the Legislative Ethics Commission to eliminate manual entry of about 12,000 reports, according to Executive Director Vibhas Chandrachood.
The agency also implemented four extensions of unemployment insurance in 2009 to ensure more than $1.25 billion was been paid, Chandrachood said. More than 520,000 citizens in Kentucky are now receiving unemployment benefits, he said.