PITTSBURGH, PA (October 26, 2020) Innovation and Performance Director Santiago Garces is returning to a government role in South Bend, Ind., where he served before coming to the City in Pittsburgh in 2018.
Garces is going to become the Executive Director of Community Investment in the city, where he previously served under former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. His resignation from I&P is effective November 9, whereupon Heidi Norman will be named Acting Director.
“Santi had one of the hardest jobs in the City of Pittsburgh and accomplished more than I could have imagined in only two years. I wish him the best back in South Bend,” Mayor William Peduto said.
Garces looked back on this time in Pittsburgh this way:
“Upon my arrival to the City, it was clear that the Department was a national leader in many aspects – but that the technical debt accrued over several decades was creating major operational issues for other Departments. After listening to Department leaders, visiting several city facilities, and hearing from the City Council regarding the many challenges, I put together a 6-point plan to remediate these major issues. My approach was to systematically evaluate different components of the operation, invest in our team to build organizational strength, develop multi-year plans that focused on financial and operational sustainability, and execute with diligence.
Working through the bureaucracy and through a global pandemic – along with thousands of smaller emergencies - made the rewarding work difficult at times, but all throughout my tenure, I have tried my best to build trust by being honest of the work that needed to be done, and then to invest that trust and see it return dividends through execution.
Our six-point plan was:
1.Implement a Technology Refreshment program
Starting in 2019, we set the standard of replacing all PCs once they reach 4 years – whenever the warranty of the device runs out. The City now has budgeted for refreshing both PCs and MDTs for the next 4 years, and established partnerships with Dell and Panasonic that enable the devices to come already configured for the usage of Departments. Even with delays caused by the pandemic, the Department has replaced the oldest 1/3rd of the PC fleet, with an average age over 6 years since July of this year. In October, we kicked off the project to start the implementation of the first phase of device management.
2. Invest in our team
Since 2019 we reorganized the Department according to best practices from the public and private sectors, establishing specialized functional units for infrastructure, applications, devices, cybersecurity, and other innovation and performance functions. We started the development of professional skills and competencies matrices per team to support the development of technical skills.
3. Invest in our technical infrastructure
The City conducted a network assessment in late 2019, and started remediating issues in 2020. In 2020 we will have rewired the City County Building, the largest City owned facility providing new wiring closets, Wi-Fi, and new wires which are 10,000 times faster than the existing ones. These project will continue in the next few years. The City also announced the establishment of NetPGH, a city-wide fiber network that will provide highly available and resilient connectivity to all City facilities, transportation, and public safety infrastructure. The City conducted an assessment of its Active Directory environment and remediated key vulnerabilities by implementing best practices. The City is finalizing a cloud assessment and procurement RFP that will enable access to state-of-the-art computing resources in a cost efficient way, especially helpful when there are unforeseen needs to increase storage or compute needs in short periods of time. The City awarded a network monitoring and managed services contract to our partners at ePlus, allowing us to detect issues with the network before they impact our users.
4. Establish a software applications roadmap and strategy
The City has established application standards including lifetimes for applications, commitments for support, and other features that address pain points. The City has a first draft of an applications roadmap and has been working with Departments to rationalize and optimize their changing needs based on the investments the City already has made or will make in the future. By 2021 the applications team will have repurposed about $750,000 dollars of licensing more optimally. The Department has also lead the largest efforts of data collection for assets in the right of way including streetlights and traffic lights that can be used for the development of 5G.
5. Follow best practices in IT service management
The Department trained and successfully certified 100% of its staff in ITIL foundations – best practices framework for service management. The Department organically established an ITIL team that has hosted over a dozen coffee chats to help the staff adopt best practices in service management. The Department established the first 2 versions of a service catalog, implemented change management, and made significant improvements to its asset management and incident management practices.
6. Invest in cybersecurity
In January of 2020 we launched a new dedicated Cybersecurity team and promoted our first Chief Information Security Officer. The City has undertaken several assessments and has been collaborating with local and national partners to develop a risk-based approach to cybersecurity and to remediate and improve the posture of the City. The Department conducted city-wide cybersecurity training and awareness campaigns for the first time. In partnership with OMB, the Department procured cybersecurity insurance for the first time. The City has also implemented several best practice controls to improve the security of the entire system.
All organizations are a work in progress, and there is much to be done. But I have seen our team confront a global pandemic where half of all administrative staff in the City had to be provisioned to work remotely in less than two weeks. I hope that they will continue to receive the support they need to complete these goals as well as future challenges and opportunities.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Steel City.”