California, Here IT Comes

Golden State Glows as a Leader in Technology<@VM>Integrated Portal <@VM>Electronic Business Center<@VM>California IT Spending: Highlights of the Governor's Proposed 2001-2002 Budget<@VM>A Prestige Customer

By William Welsh, Staff Writer

Shedding its image as a follower in digital government, the state of California is establishing itself among the nation's leaders with the recent launch of both an integrated portal and a series of new online services targeting the business community.

The custom-built, integrated portal, up and running since Jan. 9, will provide state residents and businesses faster access to information and services through better search engines and personalization features. Constructing the portal in just 110 days might not have been possible for a private-sector organization of the same size, said Arun Baheti, California's director of e-government.

The sense of urgency and desire for shorter project timelines is not restricted to delivery of electronic government services, but is being applied across the board to the state's major information technology projects, said Elias Cortez, chief information officer, California Department of Information Services.

"We want to compress the cycle time and delivery of information technology systems," Cortez said.

California failed to embrace much of the early e-government movement, due in part to the difficulty of coordinating multiple stakeholders in such a large state. So California generally has not been considered as a leader or innovator among the states, said Rishi Sood, principal analyst at Gartner Dataquest, Stamford, Conn.

But with increased funding last year and the outspoken support of California Gov. Gray Davis, "they can play catch up pretty quickly," he said.

With a population of more than 33 million and ranked as the world's sixth largest economy, California spends more than $2 billion annually on e-government and IT projects, thus attracting the attention of major players in the government technology market.

Sood noted that, unlike many states, California has chosen to award electronic government projects to traditional systems integrators rather than to young Internet companies operating in the business-to-government market.

For instance, California chose Deloitte Consulting of New York to build the integrated state portal, and American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va. to make it possible for state residents to renew business licenses online.

As for traditional IT systems, the state is shopping for systems integrators that can re-engineer existing systems to handle the needs of the most populous state in the nation.

"We want to upgrade existing systems and tie them with secure bridges to new emerging technologies," said Cortez. "Where this raises the bar for systems integrators is that we want careful planning for business process re-engineering."

In 2002, the state's major IT projects include automation of welfare and child support programs, enhancement of the motor vehicle database and automation of statewide payroll and procurement programs, said Cortez.

As if keeping a watchful eye on electronic government and traditional IT systems were not enough, the California Department of Information Technology has embarked on a project to help the state transportation department with project management and IT guidance for state-funded transportation projects. The recommendations and implementation strategy arising from this project will be used as a statewide model for best practices, said Cortez.

Arun Baheti

Gov. Davis in September 2000 issued an executive order calling for development of the integrated Web portal that became "MyCalifornia" (my.ca.gov).

Deloitte Consulting received $750,000 for providing systems integration and for coordinating the efforts of more than six other technology companies involved in the project. Deloitte and Roundarch Inc. of Chicago developed the brand strategy and creative design for the portal, developed the code for the site, designed the information architecture and conducted user and performance tests, according to company officials.

Under the guidance of the California Web Council, a group of Silicon Valley executives that advise state officials on technology matters, the effort took on the air of a private-sector project. The council "gave us insight into how the private sector would get this kind of project done," Baheti said.

The council told state officials that the key to getting the portal built quickly would be to hire an experienced systems integrator and obtain the best software available on the market for the job, said Baheti.

For the portal's core components, the state selected software by Broadvision Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., for Web personalization; Broadbase Information Systems Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif., for online analytical processing; Verity Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.,for the search engine; and Interwoven Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., for content management.

In addition, Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., provided the network computing architecture; Oracle Corp. of Redwood Shores, Calif., provided the relational database management system; and iPlanet Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., provided the Web server.

Choosing separate software for individual components "is a common sense approach in the private sector,
but not a common approach in government," said Baheti.

"We engineered it to be the most robust site possible," said Carlo Grifone, principal at Deloitte Consulting.

Deloitte Consulting "clearly succeeded" with the MyCalifornia project, Baheti said, adding that state agencies might want to work individually with the company on developing Web applications.In January, AMS finished the first part of a two-phase project to provide online professional licensing for California's departments of Consumer Affairs and General Services.

The online licensing project is a major component of
California's E-Business Center, which Davis has tagged to receive $3 million in additional funding next year.

The E-Business Center is a set of electronic government demonstration projects geared toward the business
community "to show it the quality of our work," said Baheti.

Providing online services to businesses is replacing online services to citizens as the top priority of state officials, according to Jeremy Sharrard of Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge Mass.

"State services to businesses will drive the future innovations of e-government," Sharrard said.

This is because the business community has the infrastructure to conduct large volume electronic transactions with government, said Sood.

Just as they did with the portal project, California officials wasted no time rolling out the first applications for the E-Business Center.

"It was very exciting for the first few months of the project," said Gerri Magers, AMS' California engagement manager. "The government [moved] quickly with its partnerships."

AMS won the award, which was valued at less than $500,000, in October 2000. AMS' primary software subcontractor on the project was System Automation Corp. of Calverton, Md.

The first phase of the electronic licensing project enables nurses to renew their licenses with the California Board of Registered Nurses and pay renewal fees online. The second phase of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in May, will provide similar services for cosmetologists, security guards and other professionals.

The online professional licensing "is one of the more important projects that [California] has put up under its Web portal," Magers said.E-Government: $4.7 million, which includes $3 million to continue the development of the E-Business Center and complete pilot projects initiated in the current fiscal year, and $1.7 million to upgrade the California Web portal for improved public access.

High-Tech Training and Research: $75 million for the University of California to develop three world-class centers for cutting-edge research in science and technology; $33 million to develop a fourth institute, a Center for Information Technology at UC-Berkeley; $18 million to continue expansion of Internet2, the high-speed data transmission network; and $32 million in continuing funding to expand Internet connectivity and network infrastructure to K-12 schools and county offices of education.

Public Safety: $75 million for local law enforcement agencies to purchase high-tech equipment for crime prevention and suppression. Local agencies will receive a minimum allocation of $100,000 and an additional per capita amount to purchase high-tech equipment such as mobile computers, radios and video imaging equipment.

Traffic Operations Management: $7.6 million to complete installation of automated toll collection on all seven Bay Area toll bridges.

Voting Pilot Project: $40 million for a touch-screen voting pilot project in three California counties ? one large, one medium and one small ? to explore possible technology-related improvements to the existing vote-counting process.By William Welsh

California's size and stature among states make it a coveted customer for government systems integrators looking to enhance their list of satisfied clients.

"[Companies] get more kudos from doing projects in California because it has larger business requirements," said Rishi Sood, principal analyst with Gartner Dataquest, Stamford, Conn.

A glance at a few of the ongoing projects at the state level shows that systems integrators are delivering what California Chief Information Officer Eli Cortez calls "industrial-strength" information systems.

Franchise Tax Board. In March, American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., will complete a three-year, $23 million project for the tax board that supports the collection of delinquent taxes and helps identify noncompliant or under-reporting taxpayers. The project was financed using a benefits model by which the board would pay AMS only if the system generated enough revenue to cover project costs. AMS has recovered its investment, company officials said.

Department of General Services. Chicago-based Accenture is building a Web-enabled system titled CAL-Buy for the California Department of General Services' Procurement Division. The CAL-Buy system is in the pilot state and will be completed in June.

Department of Transportation. From 1998 to 1999, Accenture helped Caltrans conduct a human resource management systems pilot designed by PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. The system replaces existing time-reporting systems, employee certification and licensing and workers' compensation management. In January, the system was expanded to include all Caltrans departments throughout the state.

Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 30, 2010 dev

Arun Baheti is a leader in technology. I hope he is still working for Government and making strides for taxpayers

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