Dec 18 2019

Texas Focuses on Digital Services with Strategic IT Plan

Secure IT service delivery, advanced data management and agile IT development are the key goals for the 2020–2024 plan.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including a focus on digital services. In November, Texas’ Department of Information Resources released its 2020–2024 State Strategic Plan for Information Resources Management

The plan, “developed to help advance Texas government toward the next generation of technology,” aims to help state agency leaders “evaluate technology initiatives that can improve services to the citizens and workforce they support.” The plan lays out three strategic goals: secure IT service delivery, advance data management and digital services, and develop agile IT

Texas CTO John Hoffman tells StateScoop that state agencies are increasingly deploying digital services to meet residents’ needs “rather than focusing on simply connectivity and accessibility for employees working outside of the office or on their mobile devices.” 

The strategic plan goes “beyond the Internet of Things,” Hoffman says. Regarding the creation of digital of services, Texas is “understanding customer needs and preferences at the forefront of design,” Hoffman says.

“When you think about the Internet of Things, and while that had its own connotation and definition,” Hoffman tells StateScoop, “I think we’ve moved beyond that in getting into: ‘What are those digital services that we’re doing? How are we driving the customers need and the process automation?’”

MORE FROM STATETECH: AI use is poised to grow in state government in the years ahead.

Texas Plans to Modernize Its Approach to IT

In terms of secure IT service delivery, the state says its key objectives are to evaluate and deploy cost-effective security enhancement tools, routinely improve and test business continuity plans, consolidate and centralize identity and access management across applications, prioritize legacy modernization efforts, and use an application portfolio management solution. 

“Agencies must provide secure information and services to both the citizens they serve and the workforce they support,” the plan notes. “As the need to provide digital services to citizens grows, the public sector continues to be an attractive target for cybersecurity attacks.”

Since agencies are trusted with the most sensitive and confidential information of the residents they serve, they are responsible for ensuring data is not compromised. “For government to run effectively, the state must protect data, ensure it is used appropriately, and keep in compliance with state and federal regulations,” the plan says. 

Texas wants to get to a point where it is able to devote substantial resources to “effectively manage agencies’ security programs and to reduce risk and vulnerability of the agencies information systems.” The state will continue to protect private and confidential information, diligently minimize exposure to cyberattacks and adopt a mature, risk-based security program. 

Texas wants “repeatable, adaptable methodologies to address legacy system modernization, and to reduce risk of system compromise and data breaches.” And the state aims to take a “proactive approach for managing IT that redirects savings to other priorities and needs, improved capacity for improving security and ongoing monitoring of potential threats, and better application efficiency.”

For digital services themselves, the plan advocates for Texas agencies to “implement fundamental data management, governance, policies, and best practices.” Meanwhile, Texas wants to explore mobile and digital methods of service delivery, spur change with data-driven decisions supported by business intelligence, and ensure the procurement and deployment of digital services so that they “provide accessible electronic information resources.” Above all, Texas wants to “focus on the customer’s needs and preferences with user-centric design applications.”

Agencies can look to digital services and the use of automation technologies to “extend government services beyond traditional in-person operations to better serve the citizens of the state with easier access to resources,” the plan states. 

Digital services let agencies “improve and transform services by creating automated processes and workflows to allow organizations to focus on effective and innovative delivery of government services,” according to the plan.

For agile and automated IT strategies, Texas wants to make sure agencies are considering agile procurement methodologies, using shared technology services and open source software. The plan also calls for agencies to explore and prioritize business process automation, start testing artificial intelligence solutions, adopt modern development approaches and use an application performance management solution.

“As agencies transition to the next generation of innovative solutions, they will need to consider the scalable services of cloud and the efficiencies of automation,” the plan notes. “Additionally, the rapidly changing IT environment necessitates changes in the way agencies procure technology services, plan for IT projects, and engage with their IT workforce toward more agile methodologies and processes.”

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