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Information Technology a Critical Success Factor in OOD's Coronavirus Response

Division of Information Technology a Critical Success factor in OOD's Coronavirus Response

Since early 2019, the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Division of Information Technology (OOD IT) has been planning and executing an ambitious IT modernization strategy designed to increase security, reduce risk, decrease cost, enhance productivity, improve the internal and external user experience, and help OOD better meet the needs of Ohioans with disabilities—all while complying with Governor DeWine’s Executive Order 2019-15D. Their initial sense of urgency came from the need to quickly mitigate specific risks associated with a severely outdated, and in some cases, unsupported technology infrastructure.

Recently, even more pressing needs that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic showcase just how timely and valuable OOD IT’s work over the past year has been. Several OOD IT deliverables have been key to preparing OOD for the quick pivot to a telework environment and positioning the Division of Disability Determination to follow suit immediately upon federal approval.

Foundational Infrastructure and Security

OOD IT’s work to update and upgrade technology infrastructure and equipment mitigated several reliability and security risks as it laid important groundwork for the move to cloud computing, which were critical success factors for the current telework environment.

Key achievements include:

  • Deployment of new laptops and mobile phones to agency staff
  • Prioritization of IT security policies and practices that protect client information
  • Migration of on-premises servers to the State of Ohio private cloud
  • Migration of all OOD sites to the Ohio One Network and critical network infrastructure to state enterprise solutions, including firewall, VPN, and network load balancing
  • Modernization of underlying application technology to improve provider search capability and user experience
  • Implementation of state enterprise security and privacy solutions
  • Upgraded internal applications such as timekeep, request for training, and the extranet

Modern Collaboration and Communication Tools

With mobile hardware (laptops, tablets, iPhones) in circulation and a more secure VPN solution in place, OOD IT focused on enhancing agency staff’s ability to collaborate and be productive no matter where they worked. And now that most technology was cloud-based, the dependency on an office environment was all but eliminated for conducting the important business of OOD.

Key achievements include:

  • Deployment of Office 365 software package to all agency staff—Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, Excel—with full functionality on laptops and mobile devices
  • Adoption of other Microsoft 365 applications and services within OOD IT that reduced the expense of overlapping functionality and better support or enable cloud computing
  • Migration and redesign of OOD’s public-facing website to the InnovateOhio Platform solution with full accessibility for screen readers
  • Migration and redesign of The Insider intranet site to SharePoint Online

These accomplishments highlight the critical role the Division of Information Technology played and continues to play in OOD’s ability to provide seamless service to Ohioans with disabilities, support providers, vendor partners, and state employees.