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Network News

January 2023
Volume 23, Number 1

From the Chief Information Officer:

Robert Osmond, Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth
CIO Robert Osmond

Happy New Year to everyone! As we kick off the new year, I hope that you are all as excited as I am about our prospects for 2023 and that you are ready to work!  As we move forward, there are so many impactful and exciting projects in flight. There are too many to capture in one message, but I wanted to share some of the highlights with you. 

In our infrastructure solutions area, we are rolling out the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution. With a goal of improving network capacity across the Commonwealth enterprise by 1,000%, SD-WAN will be deployed to all agencies over the course of the next year to ensure they have the tools and resources needed to best serve customers in Virginia. So far more than 50%, over 500 sites, have been upgraded with the new SD-WAN software, and additional engineering teams are deploying to augment those sites to integrate local broadband. Also, we are continuing efforts to consolidate the Commonwealth of Virginia (COV) VPN solution to Prisma Global Protect, deploy exciting new cloud solutions and continue improving the overall environment. 

In our cybersecurity solutions area, we are deploying a new COV cybersecurity training tool, called KnowBe4, to every COV employee that we serve in the executive branch. Additionally, we are planning our next transformation to a zero trust operating model; improving COV user account management with CyberArk and TecMFA; and improving our management of vulnerabilities with better analytics. All this while supporting executive order 24, enabling new SAAS cloud applications (ECOS) and so much more. 

In our enterprise solutions area, we are driving new website modernization initiatives to improve the user experience on our COV digital real estate. This is in direct response to Governor Youngkin’s focus on creating solutions that are cohesive, seamless, accessible and Commonwealth-branded. Additionally, we are delivering exciting new workflow and e-form capabilities, supporting our IBM stack and building out a new application development capability (we even have a new client!). Looking ahead, there are so many opportunities where we can make a real difference.  

Our administrative, financial, customer experience and procurement teams are also executing big plays: 

  • In administration, we are hiring for a number of positions, delivering a new leadership development program, driving new strategies (from Gartner and others), keeping our customers informed and involved, and are engaged with the legislative process as we enter the Fiscal Year 2024 General Assembly.  
  • In finance, we are launching a new integrated financial management solution, changing the way we recover costs, transforming our enterprise telephone billing process and optimizing cash.  
  • In customer experience, we are enhancing customer collaboration, helping our agencies strategically plan, managing enterprise information technology (IT) investments and streamlining project governance.  
  • In procurement, we are continuing to operate a $1 billon business, leading IT procurement transformation and we have even awarded our first contract (and the first week has yet to be done!).  

We realize it will take much work and effort on all sides to make these projects a reality, but know it’s worth it – as we keep our eyes on the prize of serving the 8.6 million residents of the Commonwealth as efficiently and effectively possible.  

With all of us working together, we can and will make a difference in 2023! This will be our year! I am so proud of what you have accomplished and look forward to even more success this year. As always, I appreciate your partnership, commitment and collaboration and thank you for everything that you do.  


Robert Osmond, Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth

Deadline reminder: Jan. 15 deadline for updates on Executive Order 24 

On Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, Governor Youngkin issued Executive Order 24, which bans TikTok, WeChat and any other applications developed by ByteDance Limited or Tencent Holdings Limited on state government devices and any Commonwealth-run networks. To comply with this order, VITA has blocked these applications on VITA-managed firewalls. 

 The order required that these applications be removed, deleted and uninstalled from any state government-owned devices by Dec. 31, 2022. By Jan. 15, the order requires that each agency and entity report compliance updates to the Secretary of Administration. 

For those agencies on VITA-managed infrastructure, please use the linked survey to report your compliance status. 

For those agencies on non-VITA-managed infrastructure (independent agencies/higher educational institutions), please use the linked survey to report your compliance status.

Please contact with any questions you may have. 

Deadline reminder: Submission date for MS-ISAC Kids Safe Online poster contest is Jan. 12 

Time is running out! Virginia is continuing to accept entries for the 2023 Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis (MS-ISAC) Kids Safe Online poster contest.

The goal for the contest is to engage young people in actively using cybersecurity knowledge by creating posters to encourage their peers to use the internet safely and securely. The competition also gives teachers in classrooms across Virginia a chance to address and reinforce cybersecurity themes and online safety issues.  

All students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible to participate. The deadline to enter in Virginia is Thursday, Jan. 12

CyberStart America competition: open to students in grades 9-12 in Virginia

Registration remains open for the 2022-2023 CyberStart America competition. Virginia students in grades 9 through 12 get access to CyberStart, a free, immersive cybersecurity training game. By playing the game, students can learn more about cybersecurity and build skills that could prepare them for a career in technology. They may also qualify for cyber training scholarships worth over $3,000.  

Students can play CyberStart until Tuesday, April 4. Students who have a high score in CyberStart will then be invited to apply for a scholarship, with scholarship winners being announced in early May. 

VITA's robotic process automation service sees success 

VITA’s robotic process automation (RPA) service is seeing success. Launched in July 2021 and powered by industry partner UiPath, RPA opens expanded potential for efficient and modernized processes across a wide range of essential statewide operations. The technology provides automation of repeatable, manual business processes/tasks to ensure accurate results and optimized time, human effort and technical resources. 

“We have several active efforts underway related to automation. Our most recent one was for VITA’s service level agreements (SLA) team,” said Jamey Stone who serves on VITA’s Business Automation Solutions team. “We took an estimated 10-to-12-minute process and reduced it to one minute, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $2,453 per month.” 

The service is offered as a part of VITA’s enterprise portfolio of services and is available to the Commonwealth’s 65 executive branch agencies. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) was one of the early adopters for RPA in the Commonwealth. 

Working in partnership with VITA during the COVID-19 pandemic, VDH implemented Document Understanding capabilities to process COVID-19 test results by extracting information from required fields in an efficient, cost-saving manner. The robots then delivered the processed documents into the Action Center where humans validated the data or handle exceptions and outliers. The data was exported in a variety of formats, including Excel files and HL7 messages. The reduction in time spent on data entry was extremely beneficial for employees, the VDH organization and the community as a whole.   

“What we’ve realized is that by automating some of the tasks and workflows, our employees, who are good at public health, can get back to doing that. Their time doing public-health-related work is more important than doing some of the data entry,” said VDH’s Chief Information Officer Suresh Soundararajan. 

VDH has also implemented a “Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial” ROTBOT to look at file shares and perform appropriate records management. In addition, VDH has completed feasibility analysis to automate several business processes, both backdoor and front door operations, and are currently in the process of automating at least two backdoor operations in the next six months.   

Stone says the hope is that more and more agencies will take advantage of the service. “The Commonwealth has a tremendous opportunity as it relates to automation. Agencies need to know that they don’t have to ‘eat the elephant’ in one bite.” 

Commonwealth of Virginia's cybersecurity planning committee meets for a second time in January   

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s cybersecurity planning committee will hold its second meeting later this month. The committee was created to fulfill requirements for the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program.  

“Creating the committee and getting to the point of beginning its work has required almost a year of effort from the General Assembly, Governor Youngkin’s administration, VITA, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the other state and local government stakeholders who are involved,” said VITA’s Director of Legal and Legislative Services Joshua Heslinga. 

The committee has some key roles including:

  • Developing and adopting the Commonwealth’s cybersecurity plan; 
  • Obtaining input from a wide variety of stakeholders; and 
  • Building the consensus necessary to ensure the grant program can advance cybersecurity across the Commonwealth. 

“Cybersecurity is a priority in the Commonwealth. The grants that are becoming available through this federal program will help fill in the cyber gaps, especially for Virginia’s localities,” said Chief Information Security Officer of the Commonwealth Michael Watson. “The cybersecurity planning committee will help guide the grant process now and all throughout the four-year duration of the program. 

For more information on the cybersecurity planning committee, visit the VITA website.

VITA launches associates program 

VITA has launched a new campaign to help widen the scope of its recruitment efforts -- the associates program, which focuses on supplementing VITA’s workforce by hiring entry-level talent. 

“The purpose of the program is to bring entry level talent into VITA,” said VITA’s Human Resources Director Anna Perryman. “It is designed to develop and grow the associates while they are working on specific projects that will benefit from additional resources.” 

With a 27% vacancy rate and key initiatives that cannot be delayed, VITA’s associates program allows the agency to bring in new employees quickly and efficiently. Perryman says it’s a “win-win” for everyone: “The long-term benefit is a continuous talent pipeline for VITA and hands-on work experience for entry-level employees.” 

In all, VITA is seeking to hire 11 associates who will fill information technology and business analyst roles.

Information security tips

Computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs, thermostats, cameras, doorbells and coffee pots. What do all these things have in common? They are all devices that connect to your home network and the internet. 

Modems and routers act as the gateway between your devices and the internet. Without proper security in place, you can leave the door open for attackers to access and take over your network. 

This month’s information security tips focus on steps you can take to protect your home network from potential cyber threats. 

Read information security tips.