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November 2020

Phil Bates Receives 2020 Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award

NASCIO recently honored Utah CISO Phil Bates as the recipient of the 2020 Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award. The award honors a state CISO for exceptional accomplishments in their field. 

During his tenure Phil has implemented many programs and initiatives aimed at improving Utah’s cybersecurity posture. Most notably, in 2016, Phil pushed to create the Utah Cyber Center which consolidated state, federal and local resources into a single location, significantly improving coordination between all of these groups. The Utah Cyber Center has played an important role in helping Utah cities and counties respond to several recent ransomware attacks. Phil also oversees a robust state cybersecurity awareness program and is currently working on incorporating additional artificial intelligence into Utah’s cybersecurity activities.

See the full announcement here. Congratulations Phil!

Post Updated: November 16, 2020
Posted On: November 16, 2020

Innovation Fund Projects Approved for FY2021

Each year, DTS has $150,000 to give to agencies via an Innovation Fund. The Technology Advisory Board recently approved two projects to be recipients of the FY2021 funds:

Enforcement Waterlink Module – $50,000

Adding an Enforcement Module in the existing Waterlink database will enable the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) to track the lifecycle of enforcement for all public water systems throughout Utah. In the most recent audit by the legislative auditors, it was pointed out by the auditors that DDW’s enforcement program needs to be strengthened and is of priority.  The Enforcement Module will generate tracking of required actions by the regulated public water systems through the tracking of DDW’s informal enforcement actions, legal orders and failure to comply with legal orders. This module provides water system summaries, gives staff the ability to move a water system through formal and informal enforcement, and gives management the ability to see the full picture of water system compliance. This new feature will allow DDW and local health department staff to properly follow up and follow through on actions needed to minimize public health risks and provide an efficient throughput of safe drinking water regulatory requirements.

The innovations provided are in the unique combination of dynamically managing Utah’s Improvement Priority System (R309-400) and better correlating Utah’s enforcement with the federal Enforcement Tracking Tool. The Enforcement Module will represent the first time the state and federal enforcement regulations have been accessible in one application, and used by all who oversee safe drinking water and public health in Utah, including DDW, 13 local health departments, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Agencies Impacted: Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water; Utah Department of Health; all Local Health Departments in Utah; US EPA; Utah’s water utilities that provide drinking water to the public

Benefits: The Enforcement Module in Waterlink is a vital tool that will significantly improve DDW’s performance, turnaround time of DDW enforcement actions, public water systems’ responses in addressing violations and deficiencies, and the coordination between local, state and federal levels, In addition, the DDW’s upcoming fee program relies on DDW’s ability to accurately and timely track violations, deficiencies, and associated corrections or resolutions. The Enforcement Module is an integral part of the successful implementation of the DDW fee program.

Proposed Measures:  There are many formal and informal metrics that can be utilized to show improvement:

  1.     Formal Enforcement Measures – Time between failure to comply with a requirement activity and formal Attorney General enforcement, time spent on generating formal enforcement orders, and time spent on Director level decisions for enforcement.
  2.     Informal Enforcement Measures – Time spent by water systems on fixing significant deficiencies after informal notification is a direct correlation between the effectiveness of this new module and the protection of public health.
  3.     Cost – Reduction in staff time for researching EPA and Utah priority scores, and reduction in staff correlation meetings. Fees generated through enforcement tracking.
  4.     DDW Existing Performance Measures – Percentage of population served by approved water systems. Percentage of approved public water systems among regulated public water systems.

Current Performance Measures as Baseline:

  1.     Cost – Fees generated through enforcement tracking.
  2.     DDW Existing Performance Measures – Percentage of population served by approved water systems. Percentage of approved public water systems among regulated public water systems.

Digital Birth Certificate – $100,000

Paper Birth Certificates cause a burden for many organizations including enrollment in public and private k-12 schools, requesting a driver license, signing up for competitive youth sports. If the state of Utah provided authenticatable PDF certificates using Public Private key encryption, the organizations requesting the document could validate that the documents came from the state and had not been altered. 

In 2018, 47,987 students enrolled in Kindergarten.  The enrollment process is time consuming for parents and the school. Parents for each of those students to drive the piece of paper to their future school where someone at the front desk either photocopied it or scanned it to go in their official school record that is required by state policy. Once a copy was made, the certificate was handed back to the parent. 

Travis Hamblin, the Director of Student Services at Jordan School District is responsible for enrollment. He stated that Moving to electronic birth certificates is “hallelujah”. State statute 53g-6-603 and school board rules require schools to keep a copy of the birth certificate. Neither stipulate how it is received and how it is stored, just that is stored for each student. If the state says a digital birth certificate is official, then the schools will listen. 

If electronic records were available, parents could upload certificates to school online tools and stored electronically. 

In 2017, 37% kids age 6-12 (approximately 80k youth) played team sports regularly. 

As an estimate, somewhere between 80,000 and 130,000 paper birth certificates are presented in person to schools and youth sports each year. These processes are not able to be moved online because a paper certificate is the only official document available. If the state provides a digitally signed certificate using public private key infrastructure, it would create opportunities for each of the organizations to improve their processes.

Agencies impacted: initially we would work with the Department of Health, counties, and the local school districts. Later, this could impact almost every agency. The processes developed can be applied to other digital credentials.

Innovation: we will explore the use of UMA (User Managed Access) in conjunction with UtahID. This would be the first use of UMA in Utah State Government.


Post Updated: November 13, 2020
Posted On: November 13, 2020

Utah Receives “A” Grade in Government Technology Survey

The Center for Digital Government announced the state of Utah again topped the Digital States Survey. Conducted every two years, the survey evaluates states’ use of technology to improve service delivery, increase capacity, streamline operations and reach policy goals, and assigns each state a grade based on quantifiable results.

Over the past two years, Utah has aggressively pursued a migration path to cloud computing to increase security and quickly deliver flexible IT services to state agencies and residents. With the increase in state employees working remotely, the Division of Technology Services has worked to ensure secure network connections and an effective support model to be able to support remote workers. Looking ahead, the Utah IT team is seeking to leverage an Artificial Intelligence center of excellence to enable further innovative government services.

State Chief Information Officer, Michael Hussey, has overseen a continuing effort to get the most out of state tax dollars by supporting over 1,400 online services, making it easier for Utah citizens and businesses to interact with government.

Utah is one of only five states in the country to receive an “A” grade in this year’s Digital States Survey. An “A” grade represents states that have demonstrated results in all categories of the study, including data management, policy alignment, adaptive leadership, citizen engagement, and innovation. According to the Center, top states include actions supporting state priorities and policies to improve operations or services, hard- and soft-dollar savings/benefits, progress since the last survey, innovative and citizen-centric services, and effective collaboration.

In addition, Utah earned Digital States Survey Awards in the following categories:
Leadership: IT Strategy consistency and support of the Governor’s priorities and the actions Enterprise IT takes to improve working relationships, planning, policies and coordination with agencies.
Citizen Centric: Mobile and digital services that engage individual citizens/businesses. Solutions may focus on transactions, decision support and other interactions with government groups.
Continuous Innovation: The exploration, testing and appropriate application of Emerging Technologies beyond current operations to improve government services.

The state’s technology operations are managed by the Division of Technology Services under the direction of CIO Hussey.

See the full report here:

Post Updated: November 9, 2020
Posted On: November 9, 2020