StateTech Interview With New York City CIO Carole Post

Carole Post discusses the city’s IT consolidation, licensing and broadband initiatives.

Two years ago, Carole Post became the first female commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Under her leadership, DoITT has centralized and consolidated IT and opened a state-of-the-art data center in downtown Brooklyn.

Post spoke with StateTech Managing Editor Amy Schurr about her goals for the agency and how she has shaped it since taking office.

STATETECH: Can you tell me about DoITT's responsibilities?

POST: DoITT serves as the central clearing house for IT policy, strategy and technology. We have an enormous data center operation, and we essentially power every agency in some aspect or another. Our website, the front door to New York City government, hosts about 25 million visitors per year. We manage the technology behind the 311 Customer Service Center. We manage a dedicated wireless network, and we administer the city's cable and pay phone franchises. And we do all that with a little more than 1,000 employees spread out across eight locations.

STATETECH: How has the agency changed under your tenure?

POST: We took a fresh look at the agency and recommended empowering DoITT to have greater authority to set and guide citywide policies that govern IT. We do that through a collaborative process with about four dozen city agencies and the respective CIO from each agency. When I was first appointed, we were very federated — every agency operated its own IT organization and met its business needs independently. Today, we operate on more of an enterprise basis, where independent IT operations continue to exist but are informed, guided and influenced by citywide policies.

Second, we have embarked on a more innovative aspect to the agency that didn't previously exist. We have always been very good at providing the basic IT utility, but we hadn't invested as much time in exploring the new horizon for IT. We're forging partnerships with academic, philanthropic and private entities to keep New York City on the leading edge of technology.

STATETECH: Are cost savings and greater efficiencies the goals for the enterprise format?

POST: Absolutely. Efficiency is foremost, and from efficiency, a by-product is cost savings.

I often point to the Microsoft Enterprise License Agreement that we negotiated and launched last year, which did a number of things for us. It consolidated about 40 different unique Microsoft contracts that were in existence across the city into a single contract, enabling the city to flex its buying muscle to negotiate much better terms, value and services for a deeper discount. It brought new services, such as cloud hosting and collaboration tools, to individual agencies. And one thing that sometimes goes unmeasured is that we saved 40 different agencies from the burden of individually procuring those services every few years. Great by-products come from centralizing and unifying where services are going to be delivered across the enterprise.

NYC I.T. Assets

20,000Field radios

30,000Mobile phones

50,000Hosted e-mail accounts

>50,000Phone lines

60,000 Daily 311 calls

>25 millionSite visitors per year

$465 millionOperating budget

SOURCE: New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications

STATETECH: What is the estimated cost savings from that?

POST: We project savings of about $50 million across five years.

We have done a lot of other enterprise licensing agreements — VMware, Adobe for desktop publishing, McAfee for desktop security. When you look across the enterprise and see tools or services that are somewhat universal, it begs for tying that together into a single contract.

STATETECH: What new initiatives are on tap for 2012?

POST: We're excited about a project we call Reinvent The portal launched in 2002 and hasn't had a significant face-lift since then. We're eager to give it a whole new look and feel and make it more user-friendly, inviting and engaging. Watch for that at the end of this year.

STATETECH: How is the city's broadband strategy progressing?

POST: We've derived many benefits from our cable franchise arrangement, such as deploying Wi-Fi across 30 public parks. We're upgrading Internet service in libraries, tech centers and community centers, and installing additional fiber in industrial and commercial areas. We're fortunate to have received federal stimulus dollars for broadband inclusion and have three different programs going on, all of which are intended to give largely underserved areas and populations greater access to broadband and Wi-Fi.

STATETECH: What can you tell us about partnerships outside government?

POST: Our interest has evolved beyond being simply an IT utility to being part of the fiber of how IT works in New York City. In 2012, we'll launch a program to better engage our local entrepreneurs and tech industry in doing business with the city in a more streamlined way. Because we are stewards of the public dollar, we want to ensure that we get the best value for that, and that anyone who would want to do business with the city can more easily do so.

STATETECH: What are you doing to support workers in the field?

POST: NYCWiN — the New York City Wireless Network — is our dedicated wireless network that came online as a result of post-9/11, post-blackout, various weather-related and other events where the quality of cellular service was compromised. The network is truly a legacy accomplishment for the Bloomberg administration. While it was created for our first responders, it has quickly evolved into a backbone for our public-service environment.

When mobile devices such as Apple iPads or Panasonic Toughbooks can interoperate with NYCWiN, they become much more appealing to us. We have arrangements with a few manufacturers who are building into their devices the ability to ride over our network. We are seeing a lot of our initiatives converge in ways that ultimately serve the city's mobile workforce in a holistic way.

<p>Matthew Furman</p>
Jan 23 2012