Transcript: 09/09/09 - Welfare Client Data System Consortium of 18 Counties


Welfare Client Data System Consortium of 18 Counties

September 9, 2009

TERI TAKAI:That was a great introduction. The problem was it was most of my speech. I'm going to come down here, just because I think it's a little easier for me to walk around. I think you guys can see me; you can hear me anyway, right?

Well first of all, I just want to thank you guys for really inviting me. I know in having a conversation with Paul Benedero, after I received the invitation, you know, Paul was very anxious and was very gracious to sort of helping to set the stage for me and, you know, really coming and having the opportunity to talk here. I'd like to start, before I go into my presentation, which actually will go fairly quickly because you just heard most of it, is that I would like to add my congratulations really to what was said.

What you have accomplished and what you have done is really an achievement that you should be proud of. And I can't emphasize enough that we really do in these tough times have to build on our successes. And we really have to be conscious of what we have done, and then from that we have to say what are we going to do going forward.

The second thing is that if I would mention to my EDS friends, yes, in fact, they do spend a couple years working at EDS. So be careful, because I do know where the bodies are buried. And so if you guys ever need any help, let me know.

And the third thing is that as I talk about my job, what I really want to do is to put it into context with what you do. You work very hard to put together a consortium operating on a common technology platform. You've worked very hard to find the commonality, and you've worked really hard to overcome the differences. Because I would assume that many years ago, when you came together as a consortium you didn't necessarily all think the same way. And one of the things that's interesting about a collaborative process is that when you first come together, everyone is very anxious to be collaborative. Collaboration's a great word. It's a great thing to say.

The problem is when you get everybody in a room, and they decide they're going to collaborate, the general feeling I found is that collaboration is really going to be good because everybody is going to agree to do it my way because my way is the best way. And the challenge is really hearing each other out, and saying, you know, there are some things where I'd like to do it my way, but there are some other ways where perhaps I might not feel it's the best way. But in the interests of the collaboration and the interests of what the overall goal is, I'm willing to compromise, and I'm willing to work with the organization to make the changes that are necessary.

And that is technically my job. That's what I do across 130 CIO's, across 10,000 California State IT employees. And around, well, 4 to 5 billion, we'll talk about the number, but about $4 billion dollars spent on IT a year. I spend my time trying to do what you do, which is to get state IT organizations to work together, to get them to determine what are the areas that they can actually compromise and work together, to get them over the "If I don't own it, it can't be good." And to get them to the point where we look at things on a statewide basis, just as you work to look at them across counties. That we recognize that we can be much more powerful, and that we can do a great job of applying technology in California.

The other thing that we all have to remember is you're all residents of California, right? And by virtue of being residents of California, you're all taxpayers, right? So effectively, you're my boss. The money that we spend, the $4 billion a year that we spend on technology comes from your taxpayer dollars, whether they're taxpayer dollars in California, whether they're taxpayer dollars through the Feds as all of you know, which is a large part of the technology spending that we have, it really comes from the dollars that you put in. And I take that very seriously. I really try to use that on a daily basis as we try to decide how we're going to spend their money, OK?

So I did want to put it in context, because I do think sometimes it's easy to say, well, the state's doing this, and that's different from, you know, what we're doing at the county level. And maybe the only difference is numbers and size and the kinds of thing that we're working on.

So just to reiterate I think, you know, what Steve said, and walk through it, the office, I think many of you know California has had a little bit of a spotty history around CIO. They don't have too many of them, and they don't like us a lot, which is a little scary situation when you're coming into a job. But I think, as you know, prior to the Governor creating this position in California which has been about five years, Clark Kelso valiantly had been, you know, taking on that role in kind of a very informal fashion. Tough job, but Clark did a fabulous job of really bringing people together, creating a sense of community, and recognizing - helping people recognize there was something to state IT. State IT was important.

But the Governor wanted to take it one step further. And through the advice of a number of companies, HP being one of them, several of the Silicon Valley companies, they said that you can't have a state, you know, as large as California and the whole of Silicon Valley if you don't have a CIO. You want to understand how that works in terms of really moving your technology agenda forward. So the Governor went forward and actually created the position, then funded the position initially as a small policy office. So when I came to California, we were about 32 people. Bill Maile was my first employee. Bill was my communications director. He's here with me today.

And the intent really was initially for us to be policy advisers to the governor on all things related to technology, and also set policy for the 10,000 IT employees that are out there.

But in reality that was just the start point. What the Governor wants and what the Governor continues to want is that we operate as one IT organization. Now there's a whole lot of different ways to do that. But in his mind, they had to cut down all the chimneys and silos of the way that we move technology and we have to look at what were the things that we could leverage across the state, and what were the things that were best left within the business areas or the agencies or departments. And that's always a struggle, right? What can you do in a common way, and what do you have to do to meet with the different business areas? And that's always a challenge, and that's always one of the things that's the hardest thing to do.

The second piece of this is that I wanted to make sure that we were always aligning what we were doing with IT with the business. You know, it was interesting to me that I've had departments where the IT folks were really not a part of the business organization that we'd been planning. So the kind of work that you're doing here, which is a little strategically of what you're doing, and how that fits within your business areas, there were areas in California IT where that wasn't happening. The IT guys were in the back room, somebody would throw them a project every now and then, and it was just up to them to keep things running. It's much more important that we take that $4 billion and we make sure that we're spending it on the things that are important to you; instead (inaudible) we're spending those dollars on things that are important to California.

And then the last one really is to modernize the way that we're using IT. Just as any IT organization, we've got pockets of technology, we've got aging legacy infrastructure that's 30 to 35 years old and quite frankly hasn't been able to take some of the load that we're putting on it right now. And we just haven't had an organized program to really move that ahead in a very cost-effective manner.

So those are some of the things that were really high on our priority list.

Now just to give you an idea on numbers, we've probably talked about it. Our annual run rate (inaudible) billion dollars and about $1 billion in projects on top of that. So you know, despite the fiscal crisis, that's a lot of money. And we are spending a lot of money on technology. And so our job is to make sure that we're spending your $4 billion to get the most bang for the buck, and that is an extremely very very important job.

The (inaudible) just to put some dimension on it, about 4,000 square feet of (inaudible), only about a third of that is in a (inaudible). Bit of a problem.

As we said, just from the standpoint about 9,000 servers, about 1,500 web servers. So the numbers just give you some dimension of how big we are and what's really going on out there.

Now we'll talk about this a little bit more later. In the midst of trying to really work with our current IT situation, and continuing to improve that, the world is not standing still. I think really, you know, the point that was made earlier, the technology is really changing the expectations of citizens in terms of what they want from us.

So some of the demands that we are seeing that are really pressuring us is first of all the things that you are facing, that shifting demographics. Folks don't want to stand in line. Folks don't want to come to an office. Folks don't even necessarily, interestingly enough, necessarily want to use web pages anymore. They really want to be able to get their information on cell phones. They really want to be able to get their information on many devices that many of us are not quite familiar with yet. Although, how many of you are Twittering? The largest segment of the population that's actually seen the growth in Twitter is actually all of us. Not our kids, because the kids have already been there and moved on. OK?

And so we're seeing, you know, a lot of changes. And what does that all mean? Well, what that really means is if you combine it with technologies like YouTube and Google, there's a huge demand for us to be much more transparent. All of you want to know more information from us. You want to know on our website, what are we spending government money on? What are we spending your taxpayer dollars on? What are things that, you know, give you insight into the way government runs. And that changes the whole mentality in many of our agencies in the department. They saw what the technologies can do.

And that's being spurred on very much by what happened in the last presidential election. I think the campaign, whether (inaudible), whether you're red, blue, or green, the campaign was run in a much more open, much more transparent, much more technology-driven way. For those of you that follow federal IT policy, you have heard of Vivek Kundra, who is the federal CIO, Ed (inaudible) who is the federal CPO talk about the drive at the federal level to transparency, the drive to bring technology into, and to use them to shed light on what's happening in government. And that is something that is not going to be changed, is not going to reverse. It's something that's going to change the way that we really look at technology.

So that gives us a public accountability that's growing and that's greater than I think we've ever seen before. But we're trying to do all of this with less money. And the interesting thing is, I think, if we do it right, we can actually do it with less money. And in fact it's going to help us to do more with the money that we have.

So just to run quickly through. So what was my, you know, what were the things that I felt were important in organizing 130 CIO's and 10,000 folks? Well, initially we had to do what you have done, and that is create a strategic plan. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? But it's something that really hadn't been done in the same way that we'd been looking at it in the state. And so what we did was we asked the CIO community to actually create that strategic plan. That should not be a strategic plan that's created by the CIO's office. It's something that should really be created by the (inaudible) CIOs across the state.

So we put together six strategic concepts. I'm going to go through really quickly. You can go up on our website. All of these documents are out on the website, so, you know, you're welcome at any time to come out and take a look at them.

But I thought it was important to say what were the things that we wanted as a community? Well, the first one is that we want IT to look like a utility. We want it to be where we don't worry about different kinds of technologies, where we have a common platform, a very reliable platform, that we can build business applications on. Because we're about business. While we have technology as the underlying factor, what we don't want to do is to be out there on the leading edge and invent technologies. That's not really what our role is about. It's really fulfilling that technology's potential to transform lives. That's the connection again between the technology and the business. We don't do technology for technology's sake. While it's fun, our whole role is to get it out there and make it meaningful to people.

So governance is really getting out, again, through the web, through all those different media we have so that there's less being done by employees. The employees really, then, can spend less of their time doing just the intake, and more of their time actually helping customers, actually doing the more complex work, which is really what we want to do.

Information is an asset. You know, one of the things that you're doing, and that we need to do much better on the state basis, is, how do we use our data warehouses? How do we actually use those information, and those data to actually help citizens? It needs to be economic and sustainable. We have to have a very strong green IT agenda. And you'll see something coming from the office this year around steps that we're taking on a statewide basis to be green.

And then finally, facilitating collaboration. We'll talk a little bit about that in a minute.

With that then we also did something unprecedented, which was to pull together what we call an IT capital plan, where every agency, in addition to having a view in coming together on strategy, had to submit five years of projects. They had to think about what projects were they going to do over a five year period. Didn't mean they were going to get the money for them, but it meant that they had to think through what they were going to do. And that is also up on our web. The first round is out there. The second half is coming.

The interesting thing about this is that we asked each group to map their project to a strategic goal, first of all. And we also asked them to have their department director sign off and their agency secretary sign off, right? Many of the agency secretaries had never actually before seen what their IT portfolio was, and how much money they were spending. And we had one agency who found out that they had six case management projects going on within their agency, and no collaboration in terms of why we should buy six different versions of case management software rather than collaborate.

So the idea really is to really gather those data, not for the sake of gathering the data, but so that we can see what's going on, we can put the light of day on it, and we can decide what's the right way, what are the things that we want to do.

Now the next thing that we did was we said we want to consolidate. We don't need 130 different ways of doing things. But, to do it on a statewide basis, with the size of California, is also a monumental task. There's sort of a complete decentralization to the complete centralization. And so we thought what we'd do is to start first in the pockets, so, for instance, Paul is working with Crystal Cooper and Karen is working with Crystal Cooper on it. If Health and Human Services Agency consolidated their technology across all of the departments, what would that look like? What would a common email system look like? What would a common data center look like?

So we're trying to chunk this up, if you will, so that again we're not trying to swallow it whole, but we're working towards how do we leverage the technologies. How do we effectively do for HHSA what you have done in terms of coming together as a set of counties and really being able to work together.

We actually looked, and we're working out, this is all a work-in-progress in fact because the plans were submitted to us mid-July, and we're just going through the analysis now. But we asked each of the agencies to define what were the core areas they felt they could consolidate. What were some desired areas, for instance data warehousing. And then what were some areas that were going to stay unique to particular departments that there might be some underlying technology synergies, like the case management system that I mentioned a minute ago.

Now, we're doing all of this in the midst of the fiscal environment. And I can't tell you the number of times where people say to me, well you know, Teri, I know you want to do all this stuff, well we can't do this. We're on furlough days, we have budgets that are cut. And unfortunately, they don't like me a lot, because my response is that that's exactly why we have to do it, OK? And there's time, there's no good time, to do and take the hard steps. But if we don't take some of the hard steps now, we won't get the cost savings in the future. We won't really get the benefits.

And so the finance estimate is that we've been in a recession really for some period of time. And I think all of you know that California's revenues have dropped 27 percent. And that's something that's hitting you. It's hitting everyone in the state. And really the challenge for us is what do we do with that kind of crisis.

And so the Governor is always, for those of you that have met him, know that he is always continually optimistic. There isn't much that gets him down. And so, you know, his challenge to us has been: This isn't a time to think about what we can't do, but it's the time to think about, given that we have an imperative, given that we know that we need to do something, how do we really do that, and how do we move it forward?

And so, we've decided to continue to remain undaunted in what we're trying to do. In fact right now we have a task of achieving a $129.7 million General Fund savings this year. Big task in '09/10, and $100 million in each of the four years following that. So we're going to put our money where our mouth is. It's important to us that we are able to find savings through technology in addition to obviously the major expense that we have on very large projects.

So it's important that we really have a seat at the table. I'm a member of the Governor's cabinet. We're pushing really hard to continue to make sure that IT is an integral part of business, because I think as, you know, as your board has said, technology is really going to change the way that we do things. And so it's extremely important that we're a part of that process.

And we need to be able to raise good government issues, transparency being one of them. I'm working really closely with the Governor's office right now around how do we really look at the way we're using stimulus funds. How do we track the way we use stimulus funds. And we need to be a part of that, because the technology is the way that that is going to happen.

Finding new ways to deliver services. I need to talk to you about that. That's going to be the topic, I think, of your breakout sessions this afternoon, which is to really build on the basics you have and say, "How can we make things different? How can we deliver our services better?" And really mean increases in (inaudible) around what the technology's going to do for them.

Now part of the plan, I think as we mentioned, is that we have grown from an organization of 32 (inaudible) and from a policy perspective, to actually being an organization that's out there delivering services. We are combined with the Department of Technology Services, we've brought them in as part of the Office of Chief Information Officer. We have brought in the Office of Information Security; they are now part of the office. And we've also brought in the 911 Public Safety Communications Organization. So we're no longer a group of 32. We're a group of about 1,200. We come to about 10 percent of the total IT organization.

Now the importance of that isn't just the numbers. The importance is to create an infrastructure group that can supply services to other state agencies as they do today, continue to grow that, continue to expand it, and have an opportunity, ultimately, to work more closely with you around how infrastructure services should be done, how they should be performed. And have the state be a much better partner in working with you in really helping to drive those costs down and really look at better services.

So, just to close, and just to sort of give you our view in a nutshell of what we're trying to do. First of all, what's important to us is that it's a connected California. That the technology is there to continue to connect us, connect government with businesses, with citizens, with those who really need us. But to do that, we have to be reliable. We have to have an infrastructure that is cost-effective and is efficient, but also provides services at the time that you need them. And to do that, we really need to bring those services together. We really need to do it in a much more common way, which gives us greater opportunity to be reliable and secure.

So, that's kind of a real quick run-through, in a nutshell, of what's important to me at a state level. The question always comes up: What does that mean in terms of our relationship with you? And working together, we are going to want to work at opportunity, particularly in the infrastructure area. Initially, certainly around the network areas, to see whether there's some synergy, some things that we can work on together.

And going forward I'm sure that there will be any number of other areas where we can operate as a state. If we can operate more effectively, then it gives us a greater opportunity to actually get out and work more closely with all of you.