Georgia Technology Authority: Leading the way for Drupal in State Government

The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) has just completed its hefty migration of 52 agency sites, from Vignette (versions 6 and 7) to a Drupal platform.  As this important project nears completion, it’s worth looking at the project’s impact on the State of Georgia, Drupal, and on open government efforts everywhere.

Greg Wilson
#Drupal | Posted

The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA)

has just completed its hefty migration of 52 agency sites, from Vignette (versions 6 and 7) to a Drupal platform.  As this important project nears completion, it’s worth looking at the project’s impact on the State of Georgia, Drupal, and on open government efforts everywhere.

GTA’s migration kicked off in September, 2011 as one of the first and largest major Drupal projects for state government.  The successful migration of prominent federal agencies to Drupal (e.g., Whitehouse.gov, Energy.gov, DHS.gov, FCC.gov, FEMA.gov, and the House of Representatives) has broadened awareness of Drupal’s ability to handle prominent, large-scale migrations, and allowed GTA to build on those successes. GTA built a Drupal platform for state agency sites to migrate onto Drupal, and 52 agencies have made the transitions so far. This precedent has gained attention from state and local governments regarding the possibilities for Drupal.

The Georgia platform was built on OpenPublic, a distribution of Drupal, built specifically for the needs of federal, state, and local government sites. OpenPublic powers thousands of sites for the public sector and nonprofit sector, but never before has it powered a platform as extensive as Georgia’s.  OpenPublic gave Georgia a “jumpstart” on the platform since it allowed the team to focus on critical customer requirements, instead of standard features which are typical “up front” requirements for most government sites. Also, the project’s success is attributable to close collaboration between government and vendor teams. The Georgia government development team was an integral part of this project and worked very closely with the vendor teams.

The platform leverages the OpenPublic Drupal distribution which puts end users in the content development driver’s seat. State content administrators have already used their new Drupal platform to independently create four additional sites (bringing the total number of agency sites on the platform to... 52).  As with federal sites, Drupal provides GeorgiaGov content authors with a rich set of tools to publish content (e.g., video-embed, photo galleries, Twitter pull module, and custom boxes).  These tools along with the eight beautiful themes designed by the Phase2 design team (i.e., Samantha Warren, Dave Ruse), enabled GTA to create unique sites with distinct branding for each state agency.

Here’s a diagram which helps to depict visually the platform and its benefits.

 

 

 

 

Recently, we sat down with Nikhil Deshpande, director of Interactive Services at GTA , who will be presenting his experience with Drupal at the upcoming Atlanta Drupal Business Summit  on October 26th, 2012. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’ve been talking to states and cities, (essentially local government). Almost everyone has a pretty similar structure, they are maintaining websites at an enterprise level, they have departments that are autonomous in the functions that they perform, but at the same time they are attached to each other when it comes to the overall governing body.  They like the way we have presented the platform and sites, from a user perspective, the platform is very intuitive.”  

Can you expand on the importance of the user perspective?

“I’m seeing a shift where government is really starting to consider the user, it has taken some time to change people’s minds -- it’s not about the organization, it’s about the people looking for information from the organization.  Having the website reflect the organization, doesn’t really make sense, it’s really all about who you are serving.  So with this new approach, everyone is looking at our project as a case study and saying: this is where we want to be, how do we get there?”

  

That’s a great point Nikhil, the GTA project is a great example of what Drupal is capable of.  Can you give us a taste of what you will be discussing at the Drupal Business Summit?

“At the Drupal Business Summit in Atlanta I’m going to talk about our experience, and tell the GeorgiaGov story. What I am seeing from other states and agencies is that they just want to know what the process was for us. So I’m going to talk about the process, it took us a long time to finalize the decision that we want to go ahead with Drupal.  Most of my discussion will be about how we arrived at where we are today, and I will highlight the steps to get there at a high level.”  

Follow Nikhil on Twitter: @nikofthehill. Follow Georgia.gov @georgiagov

You can catch Nikhil Deshpande speaking at the Drupal Business Summit in Atlanta, and hear more Drupal success stories the following day at Drupalcamp Atlanta. It was a pleasure working with Nikhil and the GTA team; now that Drupal has proven itself at the federal and state level, we are excited about the possibility of collaborating with more state and local governments in the future. Drupal and its community have a huge potential to impact open government efforts around the world and we see the GeorgiaGov platform as an important step in that direction!

Greg Wilson