Governor Doug Ducey gave his annual State of the State address earlier this month and we kept a watchful eye to see what his focuses would be. The tone of the speech was upbeat and covered a lot of ground. It didn’t, however, give much new insight into where technology in Arizona is headed. So, I’m letting you in on what I think would’ve been included about tech priorities in our state if it had been a focal point in Governor Ducey’s remarks.

January kicked off with Governor Ducey delivering his fourth State of the State address, themed “Spirit of Service.”  Roughly 56-minutes long, his speech focused on the spirit of service in Arizona, celebrating our state’s independence and tendency to chart a unique path. He praised Arizona’s history of female leadership, and our current status as the state with the most female legislators in the country.

With reelection right around the corner, the State of the State address focused on a variety of accomplishments from the governor’s first three years in office. It also outlined a number of his priorities, with education ranked at the top. Other proposals concerned the opioid epidemic, recidivism, wrong-way driving, child safety and water policy.

With only a brief mention of Silicon Valley companies relocating to Arizona, Governor Ducey’s speech was unusually light on the technology and innovation initiatives led by the Arizona Enterprise Strategic Technology (ASET) at the Department of Administration (ADOA).

Arizona continues to embrace exceptional service and a user-friendly experience for its constituents. By maximizing online capabilities, offering more mobile applications and leveraging cloud platforms, Arizona is focusing on value for both the business and the citizens. In fact, the state has already digitized 346 customer-facing services and will continue to push more transactions and processes online.

If the Governor had spoken about the state’s technology environment, he might have mentioned the following four priorities:

Improve Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity remains a top concern. On a daily basis, the state experiences over 500 Brute Force login attempts, over 3,000 Trojan attacks and over 100,000 malicious emails to the ADOA email system alone. Over the last three years, ASET has adopted 16 out of the 20 NIST 800-53 Critical Security Controls (only five agencies have implemented them), closed 210 security gaps statewide and has created a common incident response plan for agencies to review. But without a holistic enterprise security approach across the agencies, cybersecurity investments will remain a critical focus.

Modernize the Infrastructure

Arizona is getting out of the data center business, thereby reducing risk and saving money.  Setting aside the nearly 100 discrete data centers in the agencies, the Tier 2 state data center has experienced four major outages in the past five years. Approximately 7,400 servers belonging to 21 agencies were identified in a 2017 study. To consolidate the state’s footprint and achieve efficiencies, ASET has begun to put in place the framework to move these data centers to a third-party supplier or directly to the cloud.

The Department of Administration has already outsourced the management of its mainframe in a landmark deal valued at over $100 million and would like to complete phase three of the state data center’s move to a third-party facility by this December. Similarly, the Department of Revenue is spending $11 million in FY18 to purchase new hardware to consolidate its three data centers into a co-located data center. The statewide data center partnership is expected to generate up to $30 million in savings.

Move to the Cloud

Arizona has already deployed several platforms in the cloud and is currently doing so for the statewide procurement system and email & productivity solution. Some state agencies have already moved significant workloads to the cloud, including the Department of Education and the Department of Child Safety. Other agencies continue to explore hosted applications across the enterprise.

According to the State IT Strategic Plan, the state has 451 devices migrated to the cloud by ADOA-ASET. To accelerate the cloud delivery model, the state still needs to adopt a centralized strategy to help agencies move critical applications to the cloud, establish a standardized cloud architecture and develop a shared cloud solutions contract vehicle.

Deploy Better Acquisition Practices

Finally, with over $289 million in IT contract spend across 490 vendors in FY2016 (DES is 35% of the spend), there is the push to re-examine contracts, rather than simply upgrade old systems.  While the state continues to build a stronger relationship between procurement and IT personnel, personnel are working to develop standards for evaluating maintenance, licensing, training and installation costs. And, with a new, modern procurement system, the state will be able to have increased transparency of IT spend across departments.

Work remains to be done–our technology transformation won’t happen overnight–and Arizona has its share of challenges with a decentralized and siloed IT landscape. Without a model for enterprise technology decisions and a common IT budgeting process, agencies cannot take advantage of comprehensive management of its IT investments. We have made progress, however, and are hopeful to see a rewarding tech trajectory from here on out.

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