Enterprise cybersecurity and email swoop into Arizona state IT

In Arizona, an enterprise focus is driving the state toward better cybersecurity and a single email system.

“When I got to the state about a year and a half ago, it felt like the enterprise focus was lacking,” Morgan Reed, the state’s chief information officer, tells StateScoop. “We’re responsive to customers, but what we didn’t do was kind of zoom out and look across the state and figure out what’s the best interest of the state.”

So Reed did just that — since he took over as CIO, the state’s IT agency has rallied the rest of the executive branch on enterprise cybersecurity strategies, email and a cloud-first approach to new services. On cybersecurity, Reed and his team identified thirteen “controls” that can “reduce 94 percent of the cyber risk.”

Working alongside agencies, the state IT office will continue to implement those statewide — but the process wasn’t easy, Reed says.

“Initially, when we started on this project, there was a lot of agency pushback,” Reed says. “They didn’t understand, they didn’t know why.”

Agencies wanted to keep doing things the way they were — even if it meant paying more for services than the rate Reed and the state IT office could negotiate through the efficiencies and economies of scale granted by the inclusion of more users.

“So what we’ve said is if you have something that’s just as good as what the statewide standard is, and it’s cheaper, we’ll let you keep it — heck, we might adopt it for other agencies,” Reed says. “But, if you have something that isn’t as good, let’s get to better. And if you have something that is as good, let’s make sure that you can get it for cheaper, then reinvest that money in your agency.”

The enterprise approach applies to more than cybersecurity, Reed said, and also includes a consolidation of dozens of email systems into one. That consolidation, in addition to increasing collaboration, will help the state save money as well.

“Arizona has 30 email systems that we know of. We’re going to be on one,” Reed says. “We have 60 different price tags for the same email systems. We’re going and leveraging on behalf of 30,000 users in the state and saying ‘this is the price, no matter if you’re five users, five hundred or five thousand.’”

Editor’s note: At the time of this recording in April 2017, Arizona was looking to consolidate their work into a single email system — the current priority for the state is making email systems more efficient and streamlined, according to a statement from the Arizona Department of Administration, but officials “are looking at multiple options and moving towards providing agencies with total solutions at cheaper prices. Ultimately, the decision to change lies within each agency.”