Telecommunications and Technology Task Force Presents Recommendations to Revamp the State's System for Buying Technology
|Friday, June 27, 2003||
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Atlanta - In the first meeting of the Governor's Commission for a New Georgia, the Chairman of the Telecommunications and Technology Task Force (task force) presented recommendations to revamp the state's system for purchasing technology. In its final report issued to Governor Perdue, the task force reports consensus that the 10-year Converged Communications Outsourcing Project (CCOP) was too long in duration and too large in scope to be beneficial to the State. The methodology used by the task force will be the model for the working groups analyzing specific aspects of state government through the Commission for a New Georgia.
"I commend task force members for their commitment to working with state agencies and the telecommunications industry to review options for the state in meeting our technology and telecommunications needs in the future," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "I am confident that this report reflects best practices in the industry that will benefit the state with efficiency advances in technology. GTA has already begun implementing several of the task force recommendations and is poised to implement more in the next several months," Perdue added.
In February, after one of two vendors bidding on the CCOP proposal canceled its bid, Governor Perdue appointed the task force and named Georgia Institute of Technology President G. Wayne Clough as chair. Governor Perdue charged the task force with reviewing the telecommunications and technology policy in Georgia and identifying options to achieve the State's technology goals for the next five to 10 years.
The task force, comprised of representatives from academia, industry and government, held one half-day and three full-day public meetings, and heard comments from the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), more than 35 state agencies, and 20 industry providers and associations. The task force also met individually with 30 representatives from industry and facilitated meetings with 20 heads of state agencies and 35 state information technology managers.
"I commend Governor Perdue for taking this bold approach, allowing a group with specialized expertise to apply their knowledge to help solve a complex problem for the state," said Clough. "We believe that using a strategic and flexible approach to acquiring telecommunications and computing services will result in significant savings to the state as well as offer an opportunity for considerably enhanced efficiencies in state services."
Task Force Recommends the State Streamline Procurement and Operating Procedures
The task force recommends that the state streamline its procedures for buying and operating its telecommunications and computing systems. Dr. Clough said that allowing state agencies to purchase technology from various vendors rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach will help agencies serve the public more effectively and efficiently, and result in lower costs for state taxpayers.
Members of the task force further recommend that the state develop a procurement system that fosters competition among both small and large telecommunications and technology providers. It also advises the state to allow agencies to buy technologies like voice, computing, video, radio and data services separately, with shorter contracts from different companies. The increased competition, the task force said, will increase incentives for industry providers to deliver high quality and innovative technology while keeping state costs low.
The task force recommends the state revamp the procurement system in phases to allow agencies to learn what works so the system can be improved incrementally. Members of the task force agree that the state should also develop a fast-track procurement process so agencies can make essential purchases immediately.
The task force urges the state to use a business model to assess industry provider's competence and willingness to work with other providers to serve Georgia's telecommunications needs. The task force also recommends that common technology standards be used to make it easier for agencies to integrate systems bought from different vendors.
Members of the task force further recommend enhancing telecommunications technology to facilitate telecommuting by state employees.
Additionally, the report states that GTA's primary function should be to facilitate access to state government to appropriate communications and computing technologies rather than dictating what these should be. The task force recommends that as a facilitator for state agencies, GTA should create a formal and permanent mechanism for ongoing agency input.
Findings, Principles and Recommendations from the Executive Summary of the Final Report of the Governor's Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
- Although enterprise approaches and standards are beneficial to attaining greater efficiencies and productivity, state agencies also need flexibility in communications and information technology procurements and operations to fulfill their diverse missions. "CCOP was too all-encompassing and took away our level of flexibility," said one agency representative.
- No single company has sufficient core competencies to provide consolidated procurement. The significant investment in existing but underutilized telecommunications infrastructure arising from the downturn in the telecommunications industry and the rapid changes in useful technology suggest that long-term contracts for multiple services may diminish competition and fail to produce cost savings and efficiencies.
- The difficulty with the CCOP approach is underscored by the fact that no other state has successfully outsourced a converged voice, data, video, and computing network in a single procurement.
- State procurement processes should reflect guiding business and planning principles to assure technical competence, system security and reliability while providing the agencies with a range of appropriate options at competitive pricing.
- There is a need to end CCOP-related procurement delays. These delays have serious consequences for the state. Outdated technology, lags in staff productivity when systems go down, high costs for telephone services, and unaddressed security concerns are creating critical barriers to providing the services that Georgia citizens and businesses deserve.
- A strategic and collaborative approach to developing the state's telecommunications and computing infrastructure would create an opportunity for long-term savings, while improving efficiencies and productivity in state government activities.
State telecommunications and computing procurement policies should be consistent with the following principles:
- Any procurement process should take advantage of the state's volume and market position to minimize costs and maximize the level of telecommunications/computing services.
- Encouraging competition should be a high priority in any procurement policy.
- Participating firms should demonstrate both technical competence and a commitment to connect and/or cooperate with other selected providers so as to give competitive options to the agencies for the various services.
- The process should include as many Georgia companies-including small and medium-sized and women-owned and minority companies-as possible to create and retain jobs.
- There should be as much flexibility as possible in length and terms of contracts to take advantage of new technologies and pricing structures in a rapidly changing marketplace.
- Reliability and security of communications, records, and data are more important than leading-edge technology. High-end technology and applications should be the purview of research universities and appropriate state agencies.
- Given the revenue/budget shortfall in the state, cost savings should be a higher priority than expansion of services in the near term.
- While public investment may stimulate investment in rural communities, GTA should focus on state procurement policies rather than on public telecommunications policy.
- The process should be structured to provide for more input from agencies, be more customer/agency-focused, and be more responsive to defined needs. While standards should be applied where they are necessary or cost effective, agency purchase flexibility should also be built into the process.
- Because technology systems depend on both people and equipment, the process should pay attention to the need for training and collaboration.
- The state should develop a manageable procurement process for telecommunications and computing services that fosters real competition and enables as many large and small companies as possible to fully participate.
- Several manageable procurement areas should be identified to maximize competition, innovation, and service quality. Suggested areas are: (1) data security, (2) wide area network (WAN) core data network, (3) voice, (4) wireless, (5) desktop, (6) radio, (7) video, (8) security, and (9) quality of service. Data-related areas-particularly data security and WAN core data network-should be given priority.
- These proposed outcomes and migration strategies should be taken in the context of a dynamic enterprise architecture framework that is business-based, utilizes common standards and guidelines that are flexible, and produces cost savings or other measurable benefits to the agencies.
- The state should set priorities and employ a phased approach, which allows for immediate results that can be learned from and built upon. The state also should adopt a temporary fast-track process for agencies to procure essential telecommunications/computing services, provided that immediate savings can be realized and the services and/or equipment meet current and proposed GTA standards.
- Rural-urban disparities and rural economic development should be viewed as separate issues from the state's telecommunications and computing procurement policies. GTA's mission is to fulfill the telecommunications and IT needs of state government, not promote economic development.
- The state should enhance telecommunications technology to provide a better platform to facilitate telecommuting, but state government must deal with larger management and cultural issues if telecommuting is to become more widespread.
- Although the GTA has agency advisory committees, there should be formal, permanent, and regular mechanisms for ongoing agency input, including the creation of a formal agency advisory council.
- The mission and structure of GTA should be reviewed in light of these recommendations. In particular, its role as a reseller of telecommunications services, institutional mechanisms for agency input and governance, methods to allow for flexibility in the standard-setting process, training support, and staffing and funding resources should be examined.
Governor's Telecommunications and Technology Task Force Members
Dr. Wayne Clough
Georgia Institute of Technology
Chair, Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
Vice President, Law and Public Policy EarthLink, Inc.
King and Spalding
Former Mayor, City of Thomasville and
Owner, Campbell Chevrolet
Senior Vice President
President and CEO
American Software Inc.
Bryant K. Isaacs
President, Network Technologies
Chief Information Officer
Mayor, City of LaGrange and Owner, Lukken Chevrolet
Chairman, President, and CEO
Internet Security Systems
Chief Financial Officer
Tibs Group, Inc.
Retired State Senator
Vice President, Strategic Marketing
NCR Retail Division
Chief Executive Officer
Task Force Staff
Special Assistant to the President and Director of Government Relations
Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Jan Youtie
Principal Research Associate
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology