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Network News

July 2023
Volume 23, Number 7

From the CIO:

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

July 1 marked a milestone for us at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). We turned 20 years old!

That’s right – way back on July 1, 2003, with the release of the Commonwealth of Virginia Strategic Plan for IT and passage of House Bill 1926 and Senate Bill 1247, VITA was born, and the Commonwealth embarked on one of the most sweeping transformations of information technology in the nation.

Since then, VITA has served six governors and been led by eight agency heads. VITA has been housed in four different facilities, had two different logos, moved from a single supplier model to a multisupplier model and we have made many friends along the way.

As VITA has evolved to become the VITA of today, we have continued our mission to connect, protect and innovate and our commitment to delivering sustainable and effective results to our customers remains.

We will continue to strive -- in partnership with all of you -- to be Virginia's most customer-focused technology partner, empowering the Commonwealth to achieve more through innovative, efficient and secure technology.

And here’s a look at some of the accomplishments that we’ve all worked on together recently: 

  • The successful completion of the first phase of our website modernization program: Thank you to all our partners who implemented the updated Commonwealth of Virginia “branding bar” on all public-facing websites including interior pages and application login screens. This program is critically important as it was created to ensure all state websites provide an accessible, trusted and secure experience for all Virginians. 
  • Request for Solution (RFS) Process Improvement: A revised RFS process called "RFS Reengineered" was implemented this week. It uses an agile approach in the delivery of solution proposals to agencies within a two-week sprint cycle. This process enables the agencies to be a part of the sprint team to ensure the best solutions are identified in collaboration with the multisourcing service integrator (MSI) and relevant service towers. A pilot was recently completed with six agencies participating: the Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Budget, Virginia Department of Health, Department of Veterans Services and Virginia Department of Emergency Management, with 11 of the 12 requests within the pilot having solution proposals completed. Given the outcome of the pilot, we expect to see a 25% reduction in delivering the solution proposal to the customer.
  • Our VITA teams are working hard to provide you with as many learning opportunities as possible. At the end of this month there will be sessions including in-person training on Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other applications and virtual training for Commonwealth of Virginia (COV) Power Platform administrators and power users. Keep an eye out for VITA communications sharing more information on these training events. 
  • And, finally, we want to congratulate our partners at the Virginia Department of Education on another amazing year for two of our joint cyber education programs. In case you missed it, two Virginia students were named as national winners in the 2023 Multi-Sharing Information and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) Kids Safe Online poster contest, with Faith from Williamsburg-James City County Virtual Academy placing first overall in the contest. We also had 12 Virginia students named as national cyber scholars with honors and 208 students named as national cyber scholars in the National Cyber Scholarship program. They earned scholarships totaling approximately $732,000 statewide. 

Thank you for your continued support and collaboration through the years. It's been a real pleasure to work with all of you for these past two decades, and we look forward to many more in the future! 


Robert Osmond, CIO of the Commonwealth

VITA's 20-year anniversary: an interview with longtime employee Bob Collier

VITA is marking its 20-year anniversary this month. While VITA officially formed on July 1, 2003, prior to that, it existed as several predecessor agencies – the Department of Computer Services (DCS) and the Department of Information Technology (DIT). 

One person who’s been along for the entire ride is Information Technology (IT) Operations Manager for Internal IT Bob Collier, who has nearly 43 years of service with the Commonwealth. “In 1980, I joined DCS straight out of college and, at that time, DCS had five mainframe data centers around Richmond.” 

Collier remembers some of the major transitions that have taken place over the years including: 

  • The change from mainframe technology to client-server-based systems, with DIT hosting servers in its data center for other agencies, and then evolving into web-based systems as DIT evolved to meet IT resource needs for the Commonwealth; 
  • Governor Mark Warner advocating for the consolidation of IT infrastructure for executive branch agencies, with infrastructure employees coming under DIT, which led to the formation of VITA in 2003; and
  • The transformation of VITA’s business model from a single-source IT infrastructure services contract to a multisupplier brokerage model.

Collier says the biggest technological advancement he’s seen in his career is the advent of the internet and web-based applications, as well as the rise of cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS), especially how it has expanded the ability to deploy applications and communicate important information to the public, not to mention the explosion of social media. 

During his time with agency, Collier says his job has changed so much and so many times, "From when I started and one of our data centers was still using punch cards, to the present with my team implementing an application using artificial intelligence and increased use of low code/no code, it's been an interesting ride.” 

As for the future, he’s optimistic about what’s ahead. “I think VITA is in a very good place and will be for quite a few years.” 

Registration is open for the 2023 Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2023 Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS)! 

COVITS will be held on Sept. 13, as public-sector professionals come together with leading industry partners to connect on innovative approaches, get inspired and discover new technologies.   

Go here to register.

Register now for the 2023 Commonwealth of Virginia Information Security Conference 

Registration is open for the 2023 Commonwealth of Virginia Information Security (IS) Conference. The conference will be held on Aug. 17 at the Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa/Short Pump at 12042 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23233.  

The theme for this year’s in-person conference is Revolutionizing IS through advanced thinking: unleashing the power of AI. Join us for a day of thought-provoking discussions and networking opportunities with industry experts!  

Visit the VITA website for more information on the conference and how to register!  

VITA welcomes a record number of summer interns

Every summer, VITA offers internship opportunities for those looking for real-world experience in state government. This year, the agency is welcoming the largest group of interns to date – 18 in all. 

“We’ve had an internship program for the past 12 years and wanted to revamp it this year, making it more formal and robust,” said VITA Chief Administrative Officer Jason Brown. “These young people are the future, so we’re excited to start working with them now, hopefully fostering their growth in information technology and cybersecurity in the Commonwealth.”   

We asked three interns about why they applied to the program. 

“I wanted to intern here at VITA because I wanted experience in state government. Being a political science major, the functions of state agencies and how they interact with the Commonwealth has always fascinated me. Interning here at VITA has helped expose me to the government process at the state level. I am very excited for the opportunity to work with VITA this summer,” said Tyler Mutter, who is working for the IT investment management team. 

“The vision of VITA is what interested me in becoming an intern. I would like to be part of a public sector agency that is striving to be Virginia's most customer-focused technology partner, empowering the Commonwealth to achieve more through innovative, efficient and secure technology,” said Previa Mohanwho is working at the governor’s office. 

“I wanted to intern at VITA because I wanted to be a part of the interesting work at the agency. I was very excited about the opportunity to use my knowledge and abilities to aid and affect change in the Commonwealth, as well as work alongside the talented and bright individuals that work throughout VITA,” said Adam Rucci, who is also working at the governor’s office. 

Over the 12-year history of VITA’s internship program, 100 interns have participated.

ICYMI: Virginia student honored for national, overall win in the 2023 MS-ISAC Kids Safe Online poster contest

VITA recently teamed up with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and Williamsburg-James City County (WJCC) schools to honor Faith Stumpf.

Faith, who just graduated from WJCC Virtual Academy, won first place overall nationally in the 2023 Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center’s (MS-ISAC) Kids Safe Online poster contest.

At a recent ceremony, leadership from VITA, VDOE and WJCC schools congratulated Faith and her family, and presented her with a letter and certificate of achievement, as well as other gifts of recognition. 

Watch the video of the ceremony.     

VITA and DHRM team up to automate telework form  

VITA and the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) have partnered to automate the state employee telework form. The goal is to replace a paper form that requires multiple levels of approvals with an electronic form that uses automated routing.  

Training materials and video tutorials are available on the VITA and DHRM websites, which include:  

  • How to complete your form as an employee  
  • How to process forms as a manager  
  • How to process forms as an agency reviewer, agency head, secretary or chief of staff  
  • How to start the form process as an initiator  
  • How to assign roles as an agency administrator 

The telework form, used by classified employees, subject to the state telework policy, is now available for agency use.  

Telework forms are kicked off by agency initiators and not the employees. You will receive an email notification when you have a telework form that either needs to be filled out or reviewed and processed.   

This automation effort is just the first of additional efforts in the future. Stay tuned to learn more about the overarching program, called Commonwealth of Virginia Applications, or COV Apps! website solutions service offering is available for agencies

The website solutions (VWS) service is available for Commonwealth of Virginia executive branch agencies to migrate agency websites to approved website content management system (CMS) vendors. CMS vendors may provide web hosting, CMS, software and web design services at defined price points and services. However, the VWS service for migration of agency websites is available in the VITA service catalog and is at no cost for executive branch agencies. 

Additionally, VITA has a dedicated resource and liaison to the VWS service -- VITA’s website services manager, Manny Liban, who is available to assist agencies interested in learning more about the service. 

Additional information can be found on the VITA website.