November 2017 Newsletter
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In This Issue

President’s Message Education Committee Update ListServ Appropriate Use
Retention GMIS Data Dive Membership Minute
Organization Spotlight
President’s Message – MIKE Sturm
Hope this message finds everyone doing well and preparing for a joyous holiday season. 

First off, I want to say how blessed the TAGITM family was during Hurricane Harvey. Our family suffered no loss of life during one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Texas Gulf coast. Thanks to all the entities that helped the agencies affected by Harvey and the outpouring of support. There are many heroes in our family that deserve our recognition, not only how they performed during this crisis, but having the forethought of having a disaster recovery plan in place. If there is a benefit of having such a storm, is that weakness in our systems could be identified. Now, it is up to us to turn those weaknesses into strengths for the next storm. Even though the City of San Marcos only had wind, we identified many weaknesses due to those winds. I am very interested, as well as our members, in hearing your stories and lessons learned from such an event.

TAGITM is in full swing on our 2018 membership drive. If you have not renewed your membership, “WE WANT YOU BACK!” For the entities that have renewed, thank you. If you know of a city, county, school district, or water district in your area that are not members, we are interested in them, as well. TAGTIM has much to offer and we are interested in sharing with everyone. Reach out to your neighboring entity and say hey, I want to talk to you about an outstanding association I belong to, and I think you could benefit as well. 

TAGTIM hosted two events since our last newsletter. We hosted the Regional Technology conference in October in Mesquite with an estimated 70 people attending. I appreciate everyone that made this event successful and for those members able to attend, thank you. TAGTIM co-sponsored the Texas Leadership Summit the first week of November. Again, an estimated 70 people in attendance, primarily consisting of state agencies, cities, counties, universities and water districts. Thank you to everyone that made this event successful and those that attended.

During our 2017 Annual Business meeting, the membership voted to continue using GMIS Data Dive. The system is ready for all of our 2018 budget information. It is critical that we input our information so when a entity wants to compare information, there is data for that comparison. Last year we had over 60 entities enter their data. That is a great start. Let’s beat that number this year! Just a little hint, we have a long way to go!!

The Board, Committees and CMP continue to work hard on planning for our 40th TAGITM annual conference. If you have not heard, the conference will be at La Cantera Resort in San Antonio on April 24 - 27, 2018. I plan on seeing everyone there!
EDUCATION COMMITTEE UPDATE – Erin Provazek, Committee Chair
The Education Committee has been hard at work delivering awesome content for the TAGITM Regional Summits.  We had a very successful Fall Summit in October over the topic of security.  If you missed it, be sure to plan to attend the Spring Regional Summit In Conroe, Texas, on February 8th.  You’ll be sure to get great information and tools to apply to your security posture.

We are also busily preparing for presentation topics and speakers for the TAGITM Annual Conference in April 2018.  Hot off the presses:  Be sure to plan to stay through noon on Friday, April 27th.  Why?  We have an amazing speaker scheduled for that morning’s general session: Louis Bladel.  Lou Bladel is an executive director in the Fraud Investigations & Dispute Services practice of Ernst & Young, LLP. He is the National Coordinator for Insider Risk and Threat Management services, which assists clients in responding to, investigating and remediating insider threats, as well as developing and implementing comprehensive insider threat programs and services. Previously, as Chief of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section, he led the espionage investigations of General David Petraeus and Edward Snowden. In 2013, he successfully testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission to enhance the criminal penalties for theft of propriety information and managed the DuPont economic espionage investigation, which resulted in the FBI’s first-ever jury conviction for economic espionage.

Two other AMAZING speakers are in the works, but we thought you should begin your excitement and preparations for the last day of the Annual Conference now!
ListServ Appropriate Use – by Leisha Meine, Communication Chair
The ListServ continues to be the most popular communication forum for our membership. I thought it would be good idea to just to remind everyone of our ListServ use guidelines that we all agreed to once we subscribed as members. Remember that TAGITM does not generally monitor postings and does not, on its own, undertake editorial control of postings. The use of inappropriate language or material is not acceptable. Please self-police your comments and thoughts, as individuals with different views do use this tool.

If any inappropriate posting or unauthorized use is brought to TAGITM’s attention, TAGITM will take all appropriate action, in its sole discretion, including terminating the access of any user who does not abide by these guidelines, and/or to take other disciplinary actions against violators.
ListServ Information
Retention – You can’t fix what you don’t understand – by Myles Clauser Assistant Chair – Membership Committee
I don’t know that I thought about what I got out of being a member of TAGITM until Mike Sturm asked me to help Tim Nolan out with the membership committee. But as he asked, I thought I’d give it a go. At my first executive committee meeting I had lots of questions, and maybe a few ideas. What I learned though was that as far as membership in TAGITM was concerned, our biggest challenge was retention – keeping our members in the loop and making sure everyone understands the value of being a member. If we get that part right renewing every year should be a no-brainer (at least to me….)

 Quick stat – we lose about 15% of our members every year for some reason. Why? Good question. The reality is that we don’t know. So – my takeaway from that meeting is that we should not be afraid to ask people who aren’t renewing – Why?  Is it a change in position? Something missing that you need from the group? Didn’t like the meals at the conference? There must be a reason – so why don’t we ask?

 Sounds absurd, but we just need to ask our fellow IT’ers why they haven’t renewed. If they just plain forgot – no problem. If there’s a concern about what they’re getting for the money we should know more and be prepared to consider it. If they’ve moved on, take the opportunity to invite the new person to join.

 I challenge you to do something simple – call up your colleagues and ask them why they haven’t renewed – and send Tim Nolan or I an email and let us know what you’ve found out. If you think a call from one of us would help I’d be happy to do so once you’ve reached out to them. If you don't know who to call in your area, we can get you a list. 

 “The more the merrier” certainly applies here, but think of it this way – the more members, the more we can learn from each other – and that’s the real reason to join.
GMIS DATA Dive – Sid Hudson, TAGITM Vice President
Do you find yourself having to justify why you need more resources or show what other agencies are doing from an IT perspective?  Help is close at hand.  Agency members have access to GMIS Data Dive - Benchmarking and Analysis Tool.    For more information visit GMIS Data Dive on the TAGITM website.
Data Dive
Membership Minute – Membership CommitTee Chair, Tim Nolan
Membership Minute
Our membership focus this year it to retain our membership from last year.  This may be a bit tricky thanks to Hurricane Harvey impact on our Houston & Southeast Texas members.  For the rest of us, let this be a reminder to renew our membership this quarter. 

We still have a target to hit 210 agencies prior to our next conference in April 2018.  Our new strategy is to persuade ISDs, utilities and Appraisal Districts to join our group.  Please feel free to reach out to your neighbors and let them know the benefits of joining TAGITM.

Help Wanted!
We are looking for a new person to chair the El Paso RMG Chair position.  If you would like to help or know someone who does please reach out to us.

New Members

City of Rowlett

Organization Spotlight

Organization: Bell County Technology Services (BCTS), main office is located in the Bell County Seat of Belton, TX. Bell County has a total area of 1,088 square miles, with a population of 360,000, making it the 16th largest Texas county by population. 

Number of IT Workers in the Organization: 30

Significant Technology Achievements:

Infrastructure Modernization: Several years ago, the department embarked on an IT modernization plan to deliver a complete technology transformation. An investment of over $7M has been spent on the following major initiatives:

  • A secondary, mirrored data center to provide high availability and disaster recovery across the enterprise, implementing servers and storage infrastructure for both data centers to support redundant virtualized server and virtual desktop operations
  • Redesign and replacement of entire network switch infrastructure including redundant switch capability between both data centers, along with the implementation of a next-gen firewall
  • Replacement of major fiber trunk lines and extension of private fiber infrastructure renewing the 72-mile fiber network that joins the County to all major cities and provides law enforcement services, education and other solutions to the public, on a 10G shared service network
  • New, expanded internal and external wireless infrastructure to support mobile operations in facilities and vehicles throughout the county
  • Upgrade to the County’s IBM environment to maintain critical legacy applications and services

Business Transformation: Bell County is committed to providing transparency to the way our county is governed. An open government is the cornerstone of a free society and the basis of Texas statutes that created counties and direct local government. Bell County encourages constituents to be involved in their community and have unfettered access to the “business” of their county government. BCTS supports these efforts in many ways:

  • Expanded public access through online capabilities:
    • Live & archived access Weekly Commissioner’s Court meetings through state-of-the-art video and audio equipment ).
    • Open forums where the public can participate and interact with the elected officials.
    • Publication of the final budget online.
    • Publication of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)
    • Access to public notices and open info data extracts
    • A robust County website for ready availability of public information. For ease of use, the site supports multiple paths to given data, through a cross-matrix of links; county government entities (12), county departments (17), quick links (11) and county FAQs (34).

Plans for Future Technology Initiatives

Business Transformation: Projects, in the next 12 months, include citizen engagement and social media through web applications. There are several key initiatives to further the capability to interact with the populace:

  • BCTS will execute a major upgrade of the County web site, bringing it up to HTML 5 and making the mobile responsive design an organic part of the site. This will promote ease of use from phones & tablets and make information more accessible to constituents.
  • Budget negotiations are underway to acquire a new departmental position for a County Social Media Liaison. This position will be responsible for County Facebook and Twitter feeds and increasing presence on other social media. A key role is insuring questions or complaints received through social media are directed to County officials who have the responsibility and the authority to provide the answers.

Open government continues to be a major direction. The Bell County Auditor has committed to participate in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle and the Texas Transparency Star program. Comptroller.Texas.Gov

This program supports the tenet that open government is accountable government.

The transparency program includes publishing dashboards that include:

  • Spending (open checkbook)
  • Revenues (tax collections and other revenue streams)
  • Debt (county bonds and payback info)
  • Key economic indicators (housing permits & starts, unemployment, etc.)

Replacement of the Court Case Management System is key.

Selection of a web-based case management system will occur within the next 6-8 months, with implementation to follow immediately.

Infrastructure Modernization:

  • A project is underway to provide Internet access through a secondary Internet circuit to the Bell County fiber plant. This will provide redundancy and allow Bell County to become a Tier 2 provider of internet, providing Internet services to cities and schools throughout the County.
  • Adding additional access points to the County wireless infrastructure has also been funded and is in the deployment phase.
  • Collaboration with the cities in the county for efficiencies and cost savings. There are two initiatives:
    • Consolidated fiber contract – the consolidated contract will allow the County to partner with Cities and provide fiber maintenance and upkeep, enhancing bargaining power. Services for tree trimming, fiber “moves”, fiber breaks and other fiber related issues can be managed better and at a cost savings by entering into this partnership.
    • County-wide storage project - partnership would allow a central data storage for multiple agencies (County, City, School, etc.) and dramatically reduce the cost for each agency. This is only possible due to the County’s fiber network that cross-connects to the major Cities, Schools and other Government Agencies.

Most Challenging Project: 

Court Case Management

  • The court systems are currently moving from a 20+ year old Legacy system to a web-based system, to bring efficiency, accuracy and automated workflows to all 17 courts. The principle challenge is the scarcity of Case Management software offerings suitable for County and District Courts. Over the last 10+ years, the County has suffered from the volatility in this space, seeing vendors merge or be acquired, products becoming unsupported or forced upgrades to obtain current functionality. A recent development has compelled the county to restart the path to complete this initiative.

Most Rewarding Project: 

Prosecutorial process transformation.

  • Bell County has moved District and County prosecutors to an automated system, with the capability to be paperless. It is in production for both the County Attorney and District Attorney.
  • The Defense Portal for Electronic Discovery was built to support the discovery process and make creating, providing and obtaining it as easy as possible while adhering to strict guidelines set forth by statute. The portal has an internal and external site to support both the staff of DA/CA Office and the Defense Bar of Bell County providing the level of security required in the discovery process. Prior to the portal, the discovery process was manual and included the physical reproduction of discovery documents such as reports and photos and included the manual tracking and logging of the discovery.
  • The application improved the workflow within the DA/CA office increasing efficiency and reduced costs by eliminating the number of documents that had to be reproduced. The enhanced process allowed discovery to be made available more expeditiously to the defense attorney and with the mobile application it allows attorneys to obtain and view discovery on the go from any smart phone or tablet and the time and costs expended traveling to the Bell County Justice Complex to pick up the discovery was greatly reduced.
  • URL: https://defenseportal.co.bell.tx.us/

What is Most Valuable About Being a TAGITM Member: 

The opportunity to engage with other county IT professionals, to discover best practices and new solutions for the problems encountered in support of the County’s business.

 

Executive Board

Committee Chairs


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