May 2010 Network News

May 3, 2010

Volume 5, Number 5





From the CIO

photo of Sam Nixon

Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced that modifications have been made to the information technology infrastructure contract with Northrop Grumman. These modifications address a number of conflicts and performance issues, as Governor McDonnell said, "in order for both parties to move forward with the important work of ensuring that Virginia's state government stays online and on the job."

The modifications call for performance improvements and operational efficiencies, and set forth financial requirements for transformation.

As a result of these contract modifications, VITA staff is contacting technology teams because specific action is required by some agencies by May 15. That is the deadline for non-transformed agenicies to have a signed agency-approved transformation plan. I wanted you to be aware of the May 15 date, which is fast approaching.

In addition, I wanted to provide you with the opportunity, if you are interested, to review additional information about the contract modifications at the links below.

Thank you very much for your continued cooperation.

-- Sam Nixon signature
Samuel A. Nixon Jr.
Chief Information Officer

 

VITA requests JLARC review of two rate packages

VITA is resubmitting two rate requests to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC). The first request is for server disk storage and the virtual server backup. The request originally was made in October, but was deferred in December. The second request relates to extending temporary rates for server disk storage, server backup, server tape storage and tape vaulting. The temporary rates were approved in June 2009 for the current fiscal year. VITA asked JLARC to review the resubmitted rates in May and review permanent rates to replace the temporary rates in mid-summer. Information regarding the rate requests has been shared with finance staff at customer agencies.

VITA implementing IT managed services contract

ZeroChaos will operate as the Commonwealth's new information technology (IT) managed service provider, replacing the IT supplier managed staff augmentation and advanced IT resources contracts. VITA has signed a contract with ZeroChaos to provide agencies with access to a pool of subcontractors who specialize in providing IT staff augmentation services and to project-based (deliverables) work. The company is a vendor-neutral global provider of workforce solutions based in Orlando.

The new contract will benefit agencies because it:

  • Provides agencies with access to a high-quality pool of IT talent
  • Reduces overhead fees by up to 15% over fees charged through previous contracts
  • Provides future discounts to agencies when volume thresholds are exceeded
  • Aligns the bill rate with a job description and the technology being used
  • Creates additional IT consulting specialties that ease the sourcing burden for frequently requested services
  • Defines a common acquisition process for agencies to obtain staff augmentation and deliverables-based resources

Implementation of the new contract is well underway. VITA Supply Chain Management (SCM) staff members have hosted discovery sessions with managers representing information technology, human resources and procurement activities. The departments of Transportation, Social Services, Health, General Services and Human Resource Management are assisting SCM with defining the operational model that ZeroChaos will use to operate the program. In addition, workshops, town hall meetings, a WebEx and a design workshop for the statement of work process have been held. System testing is scheduled this week. It will be followed by supplier training and agency manager training.

Agency training sessions are scheduled May 24 - 27 at the Department of Motor Vehicles, 2300 W. Broad St., Richmond. Training session times are: 8:30 to 10 a.m.; 10:30 a.m. to noon; 1 to 2:30 p.m.; and 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Register  for an agency training session 

The new contingent labor contract will go live on June 1 for requisitions and July 1 for delivery of services.



Office 2007 productivity software to be rolled out

VITA and Northrop Grumman are upgrading productivity software to Microsoft Office 2007. Office 2007 includes the functions and programs in older versions of Office, such as Word, Excel, Outlook (e-mail), PowerPoint and Access. But there's a twist. Microsoft updated the menus and buttons, changing significantly the user interface. While WHAT you do will essentially be the same, HOW you do it will change a great deal.

VITA recommends IT staff work with HR directors or training departments to assess training needs and to prepare employees for the transition. While software training is the responsibility of agencies, VITA and Northrop Grumman have worked with the Department of Human Resources Management to develop a list of free training options, interactive guides, and learning resources as a starting point.

View resources for Office 2007 

The software upgrade brings many enhancements, such as the ability to save documents in PDF format and new features for automation and workflow. The rollouts are planned on an agency-by-agency basis over the next 15 to 18 months. There is no additional charge to agencies for the upgrade. Agency Operations Managers (AOM) will contact agencies as the roll-out schedule is firmed up.

The Department of Education served as the pilot agency for this upgrade. See a recap of its experience at the bottom of this edition of Network News.

Internet Explorer 8 upgrades being deployed

VITA and Northrop Grumman are upgrading PCs to Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade currently is being deployed, with completion across all agencies planned by December. This upgrade will provide users with faster, safer and easier Internet browsing. At first glance, users may not notice many changes to the overall look of Internet Explorer 8; however, the upgrade will include several additional features:

  • Accelerators: Accelerators will assist in Web browsing by allowing users to go to other Web sites when they highlight the text on a Web page and then click on the blue accelerator icon that appears. This will allow users to obtain driving directions, define words, search and/or e-mail content to others.
  • Search and visual suggestions: When users type words or phrases into the search box at the top right corner of the browser, Internet Explorer 8 will list words and picture suggestions in a drop-down menu.
  • Better "Find on Page:" Users will see a "Find on Page" search box at the top left of their browser. In this box, users can type words or phrases to search. Matches are highlighted in yellow on the Web page.
  • Smarter address bar: When users search for a Web site and begin typing the address into the address bar, Internet Explorer 8 automatically will recall previously visited and favorite sites and will display matches.
  • Tabbed browsing: Users will see tabs at the top of the Web browser indicating the users' homepage and tabs of previously set pages.

AOMs will provide dates and instructions to Agency Information Technology Resources (AITRs) at agencies closer to their upgrades.

Read  additional information on Internet Explorer 8 

Local Account Rights to improve security

Changes in Local Account Rights (LAR) will begin this month. The goal of the program is to strengthen security by working with agency Information Security Officers (ISOs) to assign agency employees the proper rights for their computers. Employees can have local basic user rights, power user rights or admin user rights.

Benefits to agencies are:

  • Agency employees will have enough rights to do their jobs, but no more functions than jobs require
  • Computers are running only authorized, licensed software
  • Employees on shared computers will be able to access only their own data
  • Appropriate account rights align with the Commonwealth IT security standard

VITA and Northrop Grumman plan to meet with each agency individually to provide more information and discuss rollout plans. Requests for local admin rights should be filed with and approved by agency ISOs. Contact your ISO for more information.  

New feature will help manage passwords

PC users now have access to an additional feature on eSupport to manage and synchronize their COV (Commonwealth of Virginia network) passwords without having to call the help desk. Specifically, users can go to eSupportto:

  • Reset passwords on the COV domain (Users are on the COV domain if their sign-in is firstname.lastname@agency.virginia.gov)
  • Unlock COV domain accounts, even if they have forgotten their passwords

This is an eSupport service that requires users to register. Additional instructions will be provided as the password reset functionality is deployed.

IT Infrastructure program

IT Infrastructure transformation activities continue under the VITA/Northrop Grumman program. IT infrastructure transformation is complete at 49 agencies.

  • Desktop refresh: More than 46,725 desktops, laptops and tablets have been replaced across the Commonwealth. Thousands more are receiving software updates because the existing PCs are newer. All agencies are either in progress (five agencies) or complete (82 agencies). Agencies currently being refreshed include Medical Assistance Services; Motor Vehicles; Social Services; Transportation; and Virginia Employment Commission.
  • Network: Approximately 1,727 agency sites have migrated to the new centrally managed network, providing enhanced application security and interoperability.
  • Messaging: Sixty-four agencies are complete. A total of 72 agencies are on enterprise e-mail with 35,479 users migrated to enterprise e-mail, benefiting from easier file sharing and better e-mail security. Six agencies are actively engaged in messaging transformation.
  • Help desk: Eighty-five agencies have migrated; approximately 60,672 users now are calling the central VITA Customer Care Center (VCCC or help desk).

Comments being accepted on governance policy administrative changes

A draft revised COV ITRM Policy (GOV-102-01), Information Technology Resource Management Policy, is posted on the VITA Online Review and Comment Application (ORCA) for review and comments. The changes are administrative in nature to reflect the new IT governance structure of the Commonwealth. The 15-day comment period will run until May 17, 2010. As always, all comments received will be considered for inclusion in the final document. To use ORCA,  access the log-in page. Comments of a more general nature or questions not specific to the text can be e-mailed to Easton Rhodd at Easton.Rhodd@vita.virginia.gov .

ISO Advisory Group will meet May 12

The next meeting of the Commonwealth Information Security Officers' Advisory Group (ISOAG) will be held from 1 - 4 p.m. on May 12 at the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center (CESC). The keynote address will be delivered by Marcus H. Sachs. Sachs serves as the Executive Director, National Security and Cyber Policy at Verizon, and will be providing insight into global data breach trends over the last year. Registrants are encouraged to attend in person at CESC, but a live Webinar option is available for those state employees who cannot make the trip.

For more information contact  CommonwealthSecurity@vita.virginia.gov.

Webmasters will meet May 18

The Virginia Government Webmasters will meet Tuesday, May 18, from 1-4 p.m. at the State Capitol. The Virginia Senate staff is the host. The meeting is open to anyone involved with a Virginia government Web site; the group includes members from executive and independent agencies, the judiciary, legislature, higher education and localities. A free tour of the State Capitol is offered before the meeting. Advance registration is requested for space planning. For more information contact Emily.Seibert@vita.virginia.gov.

Register online for the meeting, optional tour and/or teleconference option

Information Security Tips focuses on cloud computing

The April issue of Information Security Tips focuses on cloud computing. VITA partners with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to provide this monthly newsletter, which focuses on raising information security awareness.

Read the  April issue of Information Security Tips

April Service Bulletin features new statewide contracts

The April edition of the VITA Service Bulletin features a welcome from new CIO Sam Nixon, information about new statewide contracts for localities for servers and narrowband guidance.

Education successfully rolls out Office 2007

The Department of Education (DOE) was the first state agency to deploy Microsoft Office 2007 as part of the statewide upgrade. Office 2007 includes Word, Excel, Outlook (e-mail), PowerPoint and Access. "It was one of the smoothest deployments we've had," said DOE Educational Information Management Director and Agency Information Technology Resource (AITR) Bethann Canada. Why? Frequent communication and good planning.

"We tried very hard to communicate with employees in advance," said Canada. "We let them know it was coming and gave them as much information as we possibly could." She regularly alerts agency staff to upcoming technology changes and what to do to get ready for them.

"We wanted them to get over the culture shock of the new interface," said Systems and Database Development Manager Ray Woten. "It looks so different when you first open it up - they see the ribbon and pictures, but their 'Print' and 'File Open' commands are no longer where they used to be." Because the functions are essentially the same, DOE didn't want a training course on how to use Word or Excel, he said. "What we wanted was an introduction to Office 2007." DOE held two, in-person introduction sessions with a professional trainer from Microsoft and pointed employees to free online tutorials and resources on Microsoft's Web site.

DOE's advice? "Once you've got a projected schedule, start the communicating and keep it up," said Canada, "keep repeating it every few weeks or so, at least six weeks to a month in advance." Woten recommends holding introductory or training sessions no more than two weeks in advance of deployment so that the information is fresh. "And don't forget about Outlook," he said. "Not everyone uses Word or Excel or PowerPoint, but everyone uses e-mail, and Outlook is part of Office."

DOE worked with VITA and Northrop Grumman staff to roll out the software in four waves. The first wave was a group of early adopters from multiple departments who participated in the agency pilot. The second wave expanded the pilot to the floor housing IT staff. "We use ourselves as guinea pigs before releasing to the full agency to make sure it would deploy properly," said Canada. The third wave was release to the agency, with the fourth wave catching those who opted out with the legislature in session or had technical problems.

"I'm very surprised," said Canada. "I've not had a single negative comment about the change from DOE staff." "I haven't either," said Woten. "Everyone was apprehensive before going into the introductory course, then they were looking forward to it."