I P M A  News

  Information Processing Management Associates, Inc. June 1999  

Edited By Bob Monn

Washington’s Intergovernmental Network

Profile: Don Price, Department of Corrections Information Technology Chief

May 1999 Board Meeting

Washington’s Intergovernmental Network

By John Anderson, Assistant Director, Telecommunication Services Division, Department of Information Services (DIS)

The Intergovernmental Network (IGN) is an integrated set of telecommunications infrastructure and services linking Washington’s state and local agencies to enable more timely, accurate, and cost-effective delivery of government services. The IGN is standards-based and scaleable, and utilizes the statewide digital backbone network to aggregate and transport application traffic. The network has evolved from a federal initiative that provided start-up funding to connect local health units with the state’s Department of Health (DOH) and other federal resources.

In the past, network connectivity between state and local government organizations has typically been accomplished on an application-by-application basis. Proprietary network connections have often been used to support a single application or a small set of applications. As local government organizations have moved to local area networks and standards-based protocols, it has become increasingly difficult for them to manage and maintain the multiple proprietary network connections that have been established with state agencies over the years.

The IGN provides a single "network point-of-presence" at 37 of the state’s 39 counties – creating the foundation for a local government Intranet, while improving connectivity between state agencies and local government departments.

The first IGN application was the award-winning DOH initiative called INPHO (Information Network for Public Health Officials). INPHO made Washington the nation's first state with a public health system fully connected to a modern high-speed information management network. The state’s citizens recently benefited when public health officials used the network to help deal with the state's juice-based E. coli outbreak which was identified and contained in just six days, with far fewer cases reported than during a similar outbreak that occurred prior to INPHO.

For the past two years, DOH in partnership with the Department of Information Services (DIS) has made the network available to other state and local agencies for testing applications that facilitate the conduct of intergovernmental business. During this period a dozen cities have also begun participating in the network in addition to the 37 counties that were connected earlier. This proof-of-concept period has been an unqualified success in demonstrating the benefits of a single, secure, standards-based network for transacting intergovernmental business.

As a result, the Office for Administrator for the Courts is currently using the network to provide more than 100 courts with access to the Justice Information System. The Washington State Patrol has successfully tested its ACCESS application in the IGN’s TCP/IP environment and is beginning to shift local law enforcement connections from an obsolete legacy network to the IGN. These projects are of special significance since they represent the first steps in the establishment of the long-anticipated Justice Information Network (JIN). The JIN is being incorporated with the existing IGN infrastructure resulting in a single, standards-based logical network addressing the needs of state and local government justice organizations.

A number of local government departments have also begun using the network for business transactions with state agencies as well as other counties and cities. Prosecutors, assessors, and administrative organizations are among the early adopters. Additionally, several divisions of the Department of Social and Health Services have found that the network can support their business requirements that are linked with local government organizations.

The IGN can also provide Internet access for local government departments. As the IGN continues to develop, other value-added services will be introduced including a gateway to the AT&T wireless data network that is increasingly being used by local law enforcement and other state and local agencies.

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Profile: Don Price, Department of Corrections Information Technology Chief

What is your background?

Believe it or not, I have nearly forty years of experience in the information systems field. It is divided between private industry and higher education, not the academic side but the administrative computing side. About one-third of my background was spent in private industry. Along the way I got my education with a Bachelor's degree in Economics, a Master's degree in Computer Science, and a Doctorate in Organization and Leadership.

How did you become involved with information technology?

Like a lot of people it was almost by accident. I was raising a family, going to college and working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, in 1960. RAND is a research and development company that was an early user of computers. I was working there as a top-secret courier and was fascinated by all of the computers. I went to the head of the Computer Sciences Division to ask how I could find out about my aptitude for the field. He set me up for a battery of tests in Personnel. I scored 100% on the reasoning test and scored well on the others. This evidently impressed him because he offered me a position in computing on the spot.

How did you get involved in state government?

I have always sought out jobs that had a great challenge to be accomplished. This usually meant that I took jobs where things were in a mess, didn't exist, or had a major software challenge, i.e., an enterprise system to develop. I have accepted the challenges, and when things were pretty much under control, I moved on. This means that most of my tenures have been 3-5 years in duration. In January, 1998, I was began looking for another challenge. I ran across the Department of Corrections position on the internet. After checking into it, I applied for the position and fortunately got it. If I had not been offered this job, I may not have ended up in state government, or in Washington.

What do you see as the role of technology in state government?

Like everyone in IT that I associate with here in Washington, I see the role as ever increasing. It is important that we continue to make access to information easier for the public. It also is important that we increase the efficiency in how we manage the resources of the state through the use of technology. The use of IT as a strategic resource for the state has been obvious by the actions of our Governor, the Information Services Board, and the Legislature. It is critical that each agency realize the strategic role that IT must play and their relationship with the Department of Information Services for us to have a "complete" technology plan.

What are the greatest challenges you face as a technology manager in government?

I believe that our people are our greatest challenge. It is a given that there isn't enough money to do the things we'd like to do and never will be. So, as I address the people problems, that is, the acquiring of staff, the development of staff, and the retention of staff, I assess what is the most critical element to address. Over the years of managing technology I have learned that the worse thing that a manager can do is to let his people "become obsolete". In this rapidly changing field, it is imperative for managers to keep their staff trained and up to date with technology. I feel that this is the area that will require the most attention and will have the biggest payoff. I hear some managers say, "if I train them, they will go somewhere else". Some will, but as managers, it is a primary responsibility to keep staff current. Most of our staff work for the state for a lot of reasons and would not leave if trained. Instead they will feel valued by the organization and will do even better work.

What do you want to accomplish at your agency?

Our agency is currently functioning with our major software system that is about twenty years old. It is "a main frame, green screen" system that has been a real workhorse but has truly out-lived its time. It is very difficult for users to use. It doesn't match the way they do their jobs. It is cumbersome to maintain and nearly impossible to ascertain some of the information necessary for agency planning. My vision is for a system that will utilize current technologies where the data becomes a by-product of activities of staff, and not an add-on to their responsibilities. I also envision an IT staff expert in the current technologies, as well as the methodologies related to their positions. Those are my goals.

What in your career has given you the greatest satisfaction and pride?

This is the hardest question to answer. I have had a long career in IT and many things have brought me great satisfaction. First of all, I am very proud of some of the people that I have mentored along the way and then watched them achieve higher levels; we still keep in touch. Also, I can remember several very complex programs that I wrote that gave me satisfaction and that I still think about. I remember that I wrote an entire payroll system years ago for U. S. Plywood Corporation that was very difficult. And finally, I spent a lot of time working in the IT professional organizations attaining the position of International President of the Data Processing Management Association in 1983. I have never walked away from a job feeling dissatisfied with what had been accomplished.

How do you spend your time outside of your work?

Most of my time is spent with my best friend, my wife of 43 years, Jeanne. My favorite hobby is "collecting". My favorite collectibles are football cards and football memorabilia, particularly, San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana, but I have lots of others, and I also like the Seahawks. We love to travel and have traveled fairly extensively in Europe, Asia and domestically. We've covered most of the states in our motor home. Best of all, we love to cruise.

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May 1999 Board Meeting Minutes

May Board Meeting

Members Present: Jim Albert, Mary Ellen Bradley, Thomas Bynum, Phil Coates, Phil Grigg, Dennis Laine, Mike McVicker, Bob Monn, Darrel Riffe, Judy Schneider, Shelagh Taylor

Judy Schneider, IPMA Chair, opened the May 13, 1999 meeting of the Board at 7:40 a.m.


Secretary: The minutes from the February Board meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Phil Coates presented the monthly financial activity report and it was approved by the Board.

Business Planning: Shelagh Taylor asked if Board members had any suggestions for improving the report on investments. It was suggested that Phil Coates make some changes to the Treasurer’s report to make it easier to reconcile the two reports.

Meeting with Corporate Sponsors: Phil Grigg reported that he, Dennis Laine and Jim Albert met with 16 corporate sponsors on May 10th to discuss IPMA plans for next year and to solicit suggestions from the sponsors on new activities or desired changes in existing activities. Suggestions included submittal of newsletter articles by the sponsors for publication in the IPMA newsletter and submittal of events for publication in the calendar on the IPMA web site.

Fall Forum: Jim Albert reported that the owner of the Tyee has offered it for sale. The Board expressed interest in locating a suitable site for Forum beyond this year in the event that the Tyee is not available.

The Board approved the contract with Jim Anderson for his help with the Forum. Vendors should begin to sign up now for their booths.

Six tracks have been developed for Forum 99 with a series of potential presentations in each track. To help plan the presentations in each track, Jim will send a survey to senior IS managers who will be asked to share the survey with their staff.

Jim Albert, Mike McVicker, and Jim Anderson will meet with Bob Monn to discuss use of the IPMA Web site to support Forum. One option to be considered is hiring a design group to work with us in developing the Forum pages.

Executive Seminar: Darrel Riffe reported that the Executive Sponsors liked having the state employees speak at last year’s seminar. They also suggested some topics for this year’s seminar including e-commerce, computer forensics and hacking.

Professional Development: Dennis Laine reported that he explained the role of his committee to the Executive Sponsors at the May 10th meeting. Several sponsors volunteered for future presentations. HP will be doing a presentation on the management of printing in July.

Dennis expressed his disappointment in the turnout at the May seminar on business intelligence conducted by IBM and will be looking at ways to improve the advertisement of these events.

Communications: Bob Monn noted the need for another article for the June newsletter.


Minority Business Council: The Minority Business Council would like to increase their exposure with Government agencies. The board had several suggestions including:

  • The Council could provide a booth at the Fall Forum.
  • The Council could host a workshop to provide a dialog on how the state and the Council could work together and IPMA could participate in the workshop.
  • IPMA could sponsor a member of the council to attend the Executive Seminar. We could introduce them at the seminar where they would be available to answer questions about the council.
  • The DIS CAB could invite the state purchasing manager to attend a CAB meeting.

Meeting Place: Phil Grigg and Darrel Riffe volunteered to find a new meeting place for the IPMA monthly Board meetings beginning in June. Mary Ellen Bradley will cancel our current contract.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:00 a.m.

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