Atlanta’s IT department grapples with downward trend in funding

Sam Fried

Caption Jason Sankey, Atlanta’s chief information officer. (City of Atlanta) Credit: City of Atlanta Credit: City of Atlanta Caption Jason Sankey, Atlanta’s chief information officer. (City of Atlanta) Credit: City of Atlanta Credit: City of Atlanta Responding to a question from Councilman Alex Wan, Sankey said the department is about […]

Caption

Jason Sankey, Atlanta’s chief information officer. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Jason Sankey, Atlanta's chief information officer. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

caption arrowCaption

Jason Sankey, Atlanta’s chief information officer. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Credit: City of Atlanta

Responding to a question from Councilman Alex Wan, Sankey said the department is about $10 million short of where it needs to be.

“We have historically made compromises where, in my professional opinion, we can’t or shouldn’t because we should be investing in technology.”

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The quarterly report on the IT department also shows 19 vacancies and an retention rate of nearly 73%. Sankey said they’re losing staff to private businesses offering higher paid incentives than the city, but he also said they hired five new service desk technicians.

A spokesman for Mayor Andre Dickens said the department is in the early stages of identifying if certain programs should be cut, maintained, or reinforced.

Atlanta wants to become a “Smart City,” which describes data-driven cities focused on using technology to advance utilities, transportation and other public services.

But Atlanta learned the hard way that these vastly intertwined computer systems are vulnerable to malicious software. A foreign criminal group infected more than 3,700 of the city government’s computers, servers and workstations with ransomware in March 2018.

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The hackers locked city employees out of the system and demanded $51,000 in bitcoin. Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms refused to pay and had employees revert to paper for city business.

By December 2018, federal authorities indicted two Iranian nationals for the attack, and Atlanta spent $17 million rebuilding its online footprint.

In her final month as mayor, Bottoms told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the city’s online systems are constantly tested to ensure security.

“When we talk about infrastructure, we often think of sidewalks and streets,” Bottoms said. “There aren’t a lot of conversations about the infrastructure you don’t see, like your computer network infrastructure, or even with the recent recent challenges we have with our 911 Center.

“As a city, we have to be very thoughtful about these things that don’t always get attention or even a public outcry for fixing. Because they are just as, if not more, important.”


https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/atlantas-it-department-grapples-with-downward-trend-in-funding/VJ5RZFSYGJF3VJMPRRUIUQKZFA/

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