Insight by Red Hat

Citizens expect an app. How is your agency going to deliver?

One of the greatest challenges in public sector IT is keeping up the pace of delivery needed to meet the needs of citizens and leadership. In order to meet that pace, one of the best decisions a public sector agency can make is seeking out a private sector partner like Red Hat. Developing solutions in concert with industry can help the public sector unlock capabilities it might not have access to otherwise, and better satisfy the needs of its constituents.

That’s what happened when the top executive from one of the nation’s top 10 most populous states  issued a return to work policy for employees of the state’s executive branch. It was one of the first such policies in the country, so there was no roadmap for how to accomplish some of the provisions in the policy. For example, though the policy encouraged vaccination, it allowed for certain exceptions and reasonable accommodations according to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requirements, to include regular testing.

To implement the Governor’s Executive Order on COVID-19 safety measures to protect State employees and the public, they needed a solution that simultaneously met the needs of our nearly 60k employees, leveraged their existing investments in identity management and cloud, and advanced the state’s  application modernization objectives.

That meant designing, building, testing and deploying an enterprise class system for a state government capable of supporting more than 60,000 employees, each one of whom had to be able to securely log in, validate their on-file information, generate and sign an attestation of compliance with the policy, and provide supporting documentation. This supporting documentation could include a photo of a vaccination card, or weekly COVID-19 test uploads. But tracking all those elements wouldn’t be easy.

The new system had to handle thousands of simultaneous users submitting their information and securely route to the correct, already overworked, human resource staff team. It also needed to provide the HR staff case information in a format that enabled them to quickly and easily review and certify the status of every state executive branch employee. That meant a system with modern tools to view, process, and approve or reject employee attestations, with multiple methods of communicating with employees and reporting capabilities to provide digestible status updates.

So, the State chose Red Hat to discover the best way to meet these requirements. Red Hat’s enterprise open source technology gave the State the capabilities it needed to speed up production and meet the mission to rapidly comply with the Governor’s Executive Order. But Red Hat’s contribution to the collaboration wasn’t limited to just technology. Red Hat also supplied solution architects, human centered user interface designers, infrastructure architects, process workflow and business rule experts, and security architects to help tailor the software, the workflows and the business processes needed to successfully deliver the new system promptly.

“It is not enough to just meet requirements. Business solutions must be designed from the start to evolve and adapt to meet unforeseen requirement changes.” -Kevin Tunks, SLED National Technical Advisor, Red Hat, Inc. In this case, that meant planning ahead for potential changes such as booster shots, inoculation, new vaccine offerings, and more. Public sector agencies need general purpose, enterprise-grade platforms capable of quickly providing scalable and intuitive solutions with strong security capabilities.

Working with Red Hat, the State was able to use the managed Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS offering from their existing Amazon Web Services account, along with the customer’s existing enterprise identity management capabilities and email services. Working closely together with the customer team, Red Hat  implemented a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD)  software factory.  “The concept around a software factory, powered by Red Hat, came from our Red Hat consultants and architects seeing a lot of the same themes over and over,” said Bill Bensing, managing architect of the Red Hat software factory team. “As the world goes cloud native, the industry standard are situations where one can push a button and have IT systems spin up at a glance. We want to facilitate this industry trend so we can focus on the questions of ‘How can we help the government focus more on building their mission critical applications,’ as opposed to just installing a bunch of stuff that could be accessed on-demand.” said Bensing. Using the software factory designed by Red Hat, the team was able to design, develop and deploy the initial capabilities in less than one month. In addition, the team laid the foundation for agile principles, enabling the joint customer and Red Hat consulting team to prioritize updates and rapidly deploy user interface updates, often with zero customer downtime.

Recognizing that other organizations could benefit from a similar offering and the success of this solution, Red Hat built its standardized COVID validation check-in system for government. The validation check-in service is a cloud-native, customizable approach that can be tailored to any agency or organization required to comply with return to work policies, verify vaccination, and track COVID-19 tests.

Red Hat routinely helps public sector agencies accelerate time to results and deliver on requirements at the speed required in today’s rapidly changing environment. Red Hat’s portfolio of modern application services deliver process automation, integration and workload orchestration tooling, providing customers with a company backed suite of world-class open source-based products. This platform enables public sector agencies to tailor a solution that is cloud-native, portable and adaptive.

Agile development requires more than just the platform and other technological solutions. That’s why Red Hat also focuses on the people and processes required to create a culture where agile methodologies and DevOps practices can thrive. Much like with this public-private partnership, collaboration and communication are required to successfully develop new software. Including business owners, end users and security professionals in the development process from the beginning can pay off in the form of months or even years shaved off the time-to-production.

Whether it’s internally or on the organizational scale, collaboration is the key to success when it comes to delivering technological solutions at the pace required to serve the public. That’s why it’s so important for public sector agencies to seek private sector partners like Red Hat.

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