Ensuring Digital Security in Sacramento County
By Rami Zakaria, CIO, Sacramento County
The biggest challenges facing many IT organizations, including those of us in the public sector, are securing our IT assets. Sacramento County’s investment in information security has more than doubled in the last two years, but the risk is also exponentially increasing. Our department security team works diligently to identify and address potential threats and is committed to creating and maintaining a safe computing platform.
“Information security has become a major challenge to all organizations and actively managing risk is essential to a successful operation”
As a local government, we at Sacramento County are heading in the direction to integrate data across the enterprise. Today, County departments share information on a regular basis to improve customer service and in some instances to validate program requirements.
In our efforts to increase customer service to County residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Sacramento County Internet Portal allows residents of the County to use the website to: pay their taxes, animal license, and building permits; check their favorite restaurant inspection report; and find their polling place.
Dawn of the Mobile-Age
We are enabling the County workforce to be fully functioning in the field, as well as giving our residents mobile apps to effectively interact with the County. The County website has also been revamped to a mobile-first standard and the implemented 311 mobile app allows residents to submit service requests from the field by simply taking a picture and submitting it to us. The Department of Technology staff adheres to information security best practices in developing and deploying applications to maximize the use and availability and to maintain customer confidence.
Sacramento County is a data driven organization and the expectation is to have accurate, reliable data from multiple systems available at a moment’s notice to make educated decisions that affect the community and enhance our way of life. Mobile computing is here to stay and a key component of our Information Technology Plan is to enable the County workforce to work remotely with the same capabilities they have in the office.
Sacramento County 311 Connect
The 311 program launched in 2014 was created to be a central point of contact for residents to report issues in the community to the County. The program features a Countywide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System that is used to track service requests from inception to completion. It also features a mobile app that allows residents to submit service requests by taking a picture of issues in the community for the County to resolve. The County uses the GPS coordinates of the picture to determine the location and sends the appropriate staff to resolve the issue. The data from 311 is being used to bring in resources from various departments to address issues and to assist in determining proper staffing levels, correlate service requests types and allow the County to proactively address issues in the community.
Evolution of IT and the Sacramento County
Sacramento County adopted new IT governance that is focused on countywide projects and supports departmental specific business needs. The County’s annual IT Plan features more than 90 IT projects aimed at enhancing business operation, information security, creating efficiency, and reducing operating cost. As CIO, CISO, and the Director for the Sacramento County Department of Technology, my role includes: advising the County executives and the Board of Supervisors on technology-related issues; leading the Department of Technology in deploying technology projects; ensuring the County IT infrastructure is operating in accordance with established performance measures; and maintaining a safe and secure technology infrastructure.
Employee and Manager Self-Service Solution
The Department of Technology works closely with County executives to deliver process transformation in true partnership between technologists and business units. One of our major initiatives was to deploy Employee and Manager Self Service to all County employees. The Employee and Manager Self Service project objectives were to automate all employees’ human resources processes, eliminate manual processes and redundant systems. The new Employee and Manager Self Service Portal was successfully deployed to all County employees. It provides staff the ability to enter timesheets electronically, view their pay advice notices, change their tax withholdings, update their bank account information, sign up to receive their W2s electronically, and complete performance evaluations. The Manager Self Service Portal allows managers to approve timesheets, and run more than 25 personnel related reports in real time.
The Employee and Manager Self Service also allows the County to onboard new employees electronically, create a digital personal file. Future projects include, travel management and benefit enrollment.
CIO and IT Security
As the County CIO and CISO, I play a significant role of translating IT security concerns to the business executives and lead the County IT security team. Information security has become a major challenge to all organizations and actively managing risk is essential to a successful operation. Sacramento County has invested heavily in securing the County technology perimeter and works closely with state and federal agencies to ensure a solid security posture. The Sacramento County Department of Technology has a team of IT professionals focused on information security and we are actively working on several projects that continue to improve and strengthen our security practices.
Information technology is the corner stone of any business operation and having a solid relationship with business partners is paramount. The technology field is evolving rapidly and it is a great opportunity for an active CIO to translate the advancement in technology into business process improvement. The CIO is a catalyst for positive change and new CIOs should embrace that role.