By Paul Sandlin, eGov Services
Everyone is having budget problems these days. It is a function of the times. It is a special irony of information technology that service needs rise as budget dollars drop. It is widely accepted that, though IT services are not free (or even cheap), when they are applied with the pixie dust of creativity the maxim of doing "more with less" can be realized.
A recent example of this can be found with a problem the Office of the State Treasurer needed to solve. The office is required to accept a couple of hundred periodic filings of reports with information about unclaimed property. The filers were not known to the office and the information submitted contained sensitive information that required a very high level of security. At the time there was no mechanism in the state's information technology arsenal that can reasonably deal with this kind of problem on this scale. Maine Revenue Services, on the other hand, does this kind of thing all the time but they do it for bazillions of people and have a tremendous infrastructure to pull it off. In any case, the Treasurer's Office had a problem with a pressing deadline that lacked an obvious solution and asked OIT for help.
In the end the solution arrived at involved leveraging a pre-existing secure email service that State already had subscribed to along with a simple work flow that collects information about data partners then initiates secure exchange of information. Basically the user sends a message to Treasury saying they need to file a report. Treasury sends the user an encrypted message that the user can respond to likewise in an encrypted fashion. The sensitive data is attached to the encrypted response. The solution works well enough for an audience this size it did not cost all that much money and most importantly the sensitive date is handled in a very safe and secure manner.
The happy ending of this story was really brought about by creative thinking and frankly, hard work. The inspiration part was provided by Mike Pomerleau who possesses an intimate knowledge of the State's security requirements along good knowledge of the secure email solution. The hard work part can fairly be credited to Greg McNeal who took ownership of the problem and marshaled the resources to ultimately arrive at the right solution.
You may be wondering where this is all heading. You may also be wondering "How do I get me some pixie dust and hard work applied to one of my special problems?" You may even have a good idea that simply needs hardening. The simple answer is to contact your Agency Information Technology Director. If you do not have one or you do not know who it is please contact the Office of the Chief Information Officer and you will be routed to the correct place.
These are very difficult times. Budgets are shrinking. Requirements are not going away. At OIT we recognize these realities and are under the same pressures ourselves. Even so we would like very much to help. We honestly feel even in these tough times that we can continue to work with you to deliver the best services possible to our public.