Iowa Telecommunications & Technology Commission May 2020 Minutes
Grimes State Office Building, 1st Floor
400 E. 14th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319
May 21, 2020
To ensure the most efficient use of State resources, the May 21, 2020, ITTC meeting was held via video conference pursuant to Iowa Code section 21.8. The current public health recommendation is to minimize public gatherings. A video conference ensured that more Commissioners, staff, and the public were able to participate in the meeting and reduced the risk of delays caused by the public health recommendation. The meeting was accessible to members of the public via video conference.
Barb Kniff McCulla, Chair (Grimes Building via Zoom video)
Bob Holz, Member (via Zoom video)
Steven Olson, Member (via Zoom video)
Timothy Lapointe, Member (via Zoom video & phone)
Matt Behrens, Representing Annette Dunn, Ex-Officio Member (via Zoom video)
John McCormally, Representing Rob Sand, Ex-Officio Member (via Zoom video)
Iowa Communications Network Staff
Deb Evans, Acting Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer (Grimes Building via Zoom video)
Mark Johnson, Chief Operating Officer (Grimes Building via Zoom video)
Mike Cruise, Finance Bureau Manager (via Zoom video)
Randy Goddard, Business Services Bureau Manager (Grimes Building via Zoom video)
Ryan Mulhall, Network Services Bureau Manager (via Zoom video)
Dave Marley, Field Services Officer (via Zoom video)
Lori Larsen, Executive Officer 2 (Recorder) (via Zoom video)
Scott Golberg, Fiber Network Services (FNS), (via Zoom phone)
Rob Smith, Fiber Network Services (FNS), (via Zoom phone)
Alan Nagel, Attorney General’s Office (via Zoom video)
Call to Order:
Chair Kniff McCulla called the meeting to order at 10:33 AM. It was noted that a quorum of members was present for the meeting.
Approval of the April 16, 2020 Meeting Minutes:
Chair Kniff McCulla requested a motion to approve the April 16, 2020 meeting minutes. Commissioner Holz moved to approve the minutes. Commissioner Lapointe seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
COVID-19 Update – Deb Evans
- Circuits that were upgraded for state government are being downgraded back to normal bandwidth.
- The 13 hospitals are considering keeping the free circuits that ICN provided. They are placing official orders.
- We are working with Department of Corrections (DOC) to determine if they would like to move forward with the free calls for inmates weekly.
- ICN received the guidelines for staffing to return to the office from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). Mark Johnson and I will determine how that will look moving forward for ICN.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Thank you for staying on top of this situation. It is ever changing, there is a lot to be done.
Finance Update – Mike Cruise
April Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget-to-Actual Report:
- Monthly Revenues and Expenses:
The month of April resulted in an operating margin of -$132,997. This is favorable to the budget of -$186,337 by $53,340. This is the ninth month in a row that we have been favorable to budget. We did see increases in Internet/Ethernet bandwidth and voice usage due to COVID-19 related requests. Outside Plant (OSP) expenses increased as many projects were booked in the month of April. Allocated OSP is $217,000 unfavorable to budget, but a majority of that will be recoverable in the next couple of months.
- Year-to-Date Revenues and Expenses:
The April year-to-date operating margin was -$948,614, which is favorable to the budgeted margin of -$1,846,057 by $897,442.
- Comparison to FY 2019:
The operating margin for FY 2020 is favorable to the April FY 2019 operating margin by $89,629. This can be attributed to an increase in revenue of $92,573.
- Year-to-Date Comparison to FY 2019:
The April year-to-date margin is $897,442 favorable to the FY19 margin which was
-$1,846,057. There were no major issues in April.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Regarding the Outside Plant costs, what percentage of that $216,000 do you think will be recoverable?
Mike Cruise – At least two-thirds. About ½ is customer related to the Clear Lake Police Department. The rest are USAC charges that we bill back to Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP), and some others are fiber cuts.
Ryan Mulhall – I would say that it might be higher than that.
FY2021 Budget Approval – Mike Cruise
The FY 2021 budget is being presented for the Commission’s approval. Highlights include:
- For FY 2021 we show net cash drawn from Operations of $1.426 million.
- Revenue was increased by 2.1% from the FY2020 projected numbers. That is a 3.1% increase from the FY2020 budget.
- Voice (MVS)
- Anticipate migrating eight prisons over to MVS. There will be an increase in MVS revenue and decreases in traditional voice.
- We anticipate adding six new state agency customers to the MVS product.
- There is a decrease in offender calling, we anticipate several prisons implementing the use of tablets. We will lose some revenue in the toll for offender calling.
- Removed service since we will not be offering this service starting July 1.
- Decreased from some of the 471 E-Rate loses.
- We anticipate adding eight new healthcare sites.
- Adding at least five county PSAPs for the 911 project.
- We reduced numbers a bit from some of the 471 E-Rate loses.
- We will be adding seven healthcare sites and eight new government sites.
- Adding 25 PSAP sites for Homeland Security.
- Outside Plant
- Five new fiber builds for healthcare sites planned.
- Professional Services
- Added additional revenue for Homeland Security under professional services for secondary connections.
- We continue to reduce expenses for maintenance and support.
- Reduce expenses in video platform.
- Legacy voice expenses.
- Juniper maintenance to decrease to software only, since we can use current spares and equipment in the network.
- Reduce Internet and security programs to move in-house.
- Reduced ServiceNow expenses for licenses in the modules that we currently use.
- Operating Expenses
- Reduced some consulting expenses and desktop support.
- Payroll and Travel
- Increase 2.1% for across the board increases in July.
- Next fiscal year we will have five retirements, replacing one FTE position.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Regarding the inmates, removing the toll service and having tablets, is that going to be a major difference in revenue?
Deb Evans – Our anticipation is our toll and inmate calling will decrease, but DOC has assured us that they want the Internet and circuit connections, which will increase.
Mike Cruise – For toll, we did a phased-in approach, taking a certain percentage for each quarter, but overall it would be a 34% drop in toll revenue for the offender calling program.
Administrative Note: Commissioner Lapointe’s video connection disconnected during the comment period. He reconnected at 10:45 AM in time for the Commission vote.
Chair Kniff McCulla requested a motion to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 budget as presented. Commissioner Holz moved to approve the budget. Commissioner Olson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Business Services Update – Randy Goddard
- Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEMD) and 911 Project:
Wireline and Hosted Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Equipment:
- Wireline Aggregation – ICN is working on the migration plan with CenturyLink, public-safety answering points (PSAPs), and other HSEMD contractors. The network connections are complete in Cedar Rapids and Davenport, these were the last two links for the Core of the Wireline network. The first PSAP that will be migrated is Marshalltown on June 16. There is a lot of testing being done in advance, currently CenturyLink routes the 911 Wireline calls, once migrated ICN will route the calls with Comtech.Targeted to have CAMA (Centralized Automatic Message Accounting) trunks migration completed by the end of October.
- Strengthening 911 Solution - ICN continues working closely with HSEMD and contractors for strengthening the 911 ESInet (Emergency Services IP Network) solution with secondary connections.
- Primary connection into PSAP is ICN fiber.
- Secondary connection will be a wireless connection. We will be using AT&T’s FirstNet product. This should be starting in the June/July timeframe.
- Discussions have started about providing security services at the PSAPs. A security solution would be initiated after October 2020.
- Healthcare: Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP)
- Work is starting to pick-up again for the network upgrade. If clinics are willing to let the work continue, ICN will install the edge switches. Anticipated to be completed in October.
- Education: USAC/E-rate
- We continue to see weekly filings using the USAC waiver process. There are a lot of increases in bandwidth.
- For customers that previously had ICN video connections, they are keeping their video circuit in place.
- Other Significant Opportunities
- Managed Voice for Department of Human Services (DHS) Call Centers: one in Council Bluffs and two in Des Moines.
- New fiber build for DHS office in Mason City.
- Multiple fiber build presentations to customers.
- DHS Medicaid will incorporate an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) application.
- Completed several field office installations for MVS for DHS Child Support Recovery.
- Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Clarinda site is scheduled for MVS installation. Rockwell City and Newton are next.
- DOC Inmate Tablet RFP – Responses are being evaluated.
- New customer: US Renal Care Dialysis in Vinton.
- ISU Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWRNET) Grant support for Iowa State University. Two counties: Boone and Story. Moved out to August 2020.
- Registered for the Iowa Association of School Boards annual meeting.
- SYBAC Applications are being accepted.
- Communications team is working on a new website design. All state agencies are required to transition to the Drupal 8 application. ICN is working with OCIO’s vendor, Webspec. Hoping to have this completed by the fall.
Administrative Note: Commissioner Lapointe reconnected via phone.
Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA) Waiver
Waiver Procedural Process Overview – Alan Nagel
Procedural comments to the Commission: there are some significant administrative rules regarding how the Commission should consider this issue. The following was discussed:
- The issue before the Commission.
- The six evaluation criteria that the Commission should use to assess the issue.
- Who bears the burden before the Commission
- How the rules anticipate this hearing procedure should proceed.
Issue: Whether to grant the waiver where the costs and services offered by the Network are not competitive with the same services offered by another provider.
Evaluation Criteria: Comparing the other provider and the ICN services:
- The type of third-party service being offered.
- The direct costs of service being offered of the two different services.
- The indirect costs of service being offered of the two different services.
- Any discounts offered by the other provider versus the ICN.
- Enhanced valued items.
- Other relevant information that is before the Commission.
Burden: On the user requesting the waiver to prove that the services offered by the ICN are not competitive with the same services offered by the other provider. If the user is unable to supply information necessary for the Commission to prepare the competitiveness of the Network services and the vendor services, then the Commission may deny a request for the waiver.
- The Commission should allow both the petitioner and the ICN staff an opportunity to present relevant evidence about the appropriateness of the petition for waiver and maintain an informal setting.
- The Petitioner may ask the Commission to examine proprietary information in closed session.
- The Commission, the petitioner, and ICN staff should have the opportunity to ask questions regarding any information presented during the hearing.
After the evidence is presented and all questions are asked, the Commission may deliberate on the issue directly and issue a decision during the current meeting, or on motion, the Commission may take the matter under advisement for further discuss and decision at a later meeting. Given the informal setting of this type of hearing, the Commission can allow the parties to present additional information and ask further questions as part of a later meeting regarding this issue.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Does the Commission have any procedural questions about this issue?
Commissioner Lapointe – Occasionally we would have a need to review the requirements for waivers. These are reviewed on the competitiveness standard and upon staff recommendations fairly routinely, and generally are routinely granted. There have only been a couple times when we denied a waiver, and in those circumstances we gave the opportunity for the petitioner to come back and provide more evidence as to why they felt ICN was not competitive.
Mississippi Bend AEA 9 Waiver Overview - Randy Goddard
- Mississippi Bend AEA 9 (MBAEA) posted a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Internet Access with Basic Firewall for MBAEA Consortium that included both schools and AEA location in their area #200019715 on February 3, 2020.
- RFP was prepared by Randy Olsen, Coordinator of IT at Mississippi Bend AEA.
- RFP for E-Rate Category 1 - Internet Access with Basic Firewall included requirements for pricing, firewall and bandwidth requirements, scoring matrix, additional info including vendor meeting and proposal dates, AEA and school district locations with low, mid, and high bandwidth requirements.
- Mississippi Bend AEA also filed a second Category 1 Form 470 for Internet Service provided directly to the AEA, in the event they did not make an award for Internet Access with Basic Firewall #200019874.There was no award (Form 471 posted for this as AEA posted a 471 for Internet Access with Basic Firewall #200019715.)
- In accordance with RFP Guidance, ICN provided response to RFP along with pricing.Pricing was provided for both 36 month and 60 month terms along with 10Gb and 20Gb internet bundled bandwidths. For each of the two terms ICN provided two options:
- Option 1 – Higher one-time Non-Recurring Charge (NRC) that in turn supported a lower Monthly Recurring Charge (MRC).
- Option 2 – Lower one-time Non-Recurring Charge (NRC) that in turn would increase the Monthly Recurring Charge (MRC).
- ICN responded to our maximum transport capability to each of the locations listed on the RFP and bandwidth pricing was based on ICN’s posted Education Internet rates along with multipoint fee.
- Pricing provided by the ICN was for the complete Internet Access with Basic Firewall RFP as requested to support one award.Firewall sizing was based upon High Bandwidth requirement at each location, as well as the requirement stated in the RFP under requirements:
“Each basic firewall must:
- Have its own configuration, completely separate from the configuration of any other firewall instance.
- Not be a virtual instance that is hosted on a shared physical firewall.”
- Waiver is only required for the AEA locations in Bettendorf, Clinton, Muscatine and JDC (Davenport).
- Due to the bundled pricing that included Internet Access with Basic Firewall for all locations, independent site pricing was not part of E-Rate 470 response. Mississippi Bend AEA reached out to service providers that had submitted proposals to obtain AEA sites pricing, after having chosen IP Pathways and submitting E-Rate 471 Award on April 21, 2020.
- Initial waiver request was received from Randy Olsen, Coordinator of IT at Mississippi Bend AEA on April 28, 2020 by ICN. ICN contacted Randy Olsen and asked that additional information to help clarify the waiver request.
- Randy Olsen sent an updated waiver request on May 7, 2020 for action by ITTC.
- Email response from Randy Olsen to clarify compliance with RFP by IP Pathways on May 13, 2020 to Randy Goddard.
“Yes. IP Pathways is providing the bandwidth for each location on the waiver along with a dedicated physical firewall for each. They will put rules in to connect my 4 sites together but they will each be individual. The cost provided represents all the costs to get the location to the Internet through a firewall.”
- Pricing provided on Waiver Request used for comparison of ICN and IP Pathways:
- Differentiation in bandwidths is noted as ICN provided based on the high bandwidths shown on MBAEA’s RFP and IP Pathways responded based on the low bandwidths. MRC also includes a proportionate amount associated to including firewall functionality as part of the service.
- NRC differences in responses is the largest disparity in pricing. ICN’s NRC is based on covering most of the cost of each physical firewall appliance at each location.Maximum discount achieved through agreements with our firewall appliance provider were applied along with the estimated technician time to travel to each site to install and configure.IP Pathways NRC response is what they have provided Mississippi Bend AEA.One notable difference in the response is that ICN was installing at each location vs IP Pathways using one of their centralized locations to install all firewalls and from that point delivering circuit to end sites.
Randy Goddard also highlighted the E-rate 471 award, which includes all the possible school sites that could be associated with this RFP.
Chair Kniff McCulla – So there is a continuing conversation with this?
Randy Goddard – The AEA understood they had to file a waiver, because they are a certified user. The first conversation was that when Randy Olsen filed the waiver. Randy Goddard knew it would not provide enough information for the Commission to make a comparison. At that time, Randy Olsen provided a second waiver, and ongoing conversations that it would be presented at today’s Commission meeting. Another part of the conversation is that ICN has several contracts with some of the schools included in his consortium, and he has several questions about connectivity. Those contracts have termination liability and what ability would he have to move those circuits around.
Commissioner Lapointe – This is on the longer end five year waiver, the Commission use to do shorter term ones. Is this on the long end, or have we been giving five year waivers? Also we use to ask for staff opinion, as to whether staff believes ICN pricing is competitive? Seems to me that ICN pricing is competitive for the reasons that were stated. It doesn’t sound to me that they have met a burden of proving that we are not competitive.
Alan Nagel – The ITTC cannot grant a waiver for longer than three years, that is barred by statute. There are not waivers that are granted for this five year period.
Commissioner Lapointe – We would have to get back to them that says we can’t make an exception. Mr. Nagel are you saying that there are no exceptions? It seems like we have broken it down to two or three year terms.
Alan Nagel – The way the statue is phrased, “A waiver approved by the commission may be for a period as requested by the private or public agency of up to three years.” So the statue fairly clearly contemplates that the Commission should not grant waivers for longer than three years.
Commissioner Lapointe – Thank you. Randy do you have a staff recommendation?
Randy Goddard – No, I do not. I can provide the information as I am aware.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Alan, can you provide a little guidance here?
Alan Nagel – I can provide guidance strictly procedural. If the Commission would like they can make a decision based on the information presented, based on the evaluation criteria previously stated. The Commission can make a decision today based on the information presented, or on motion, take the matter under advisement for further discussion and decision at a later meeting and perhaps invite the other parties involved to present additional information at a future meeting, if the ITTC feels that it would benefit from additional information regarding this waiver request.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Thank you that does help. That is what I would like to do.
Commissioner Lapointe – I am thinking if it can’t be a five year, we need to tell them that now. I think we have done that before, gotten back to them and they can talk with us at a subsequent meeting, as to why they feel our rates on a three year plan are not as competitive. They may have a better argument for three years, but I think the ICN can give a better rate too. We have been competitive lately. I would say we need to get back to them and say that it is denied here now, but they can bring it forth again on a three year basis.
Chair Kniff McCulla – I think we need to review more on this waiver.
Chair Kniff McCulla moved to table the Mississippi Bend AEA 9 Waiver until the June ITTC meeting at which time the Commission will accept additional information. Commissioner Olson seconded the motion.
Commissioner Lapointe – In the past when we had a contested waiver, the Commission had printouts of the Iowa Code regarding waivers. I would ask that be done again, along with any further guidance that the AGs office would like to provide.
Alan Nagel – We can make sure that the waiver rules are in front of the Commission for the June meeting.
Commissioner Holz – In terms with the issues pending, am I hearing correctly that our issue is regarding the Firewall and if it is compliant with the requirements in the RFP and if it is comparable with our Firewall? And in addition that we can’t approve the five year term.
Randy Goddard – I would concur. Additional information based on IP Pathways compliance to the requirements for the RFP would be beneficial for the ITTC.
Alan Nagel – We do still need a vote on the pending motion.
Chair Kniff McCulla – There is a motion on the table. It was seconded by Commissioner Olson. All those in favor: The motion passed unanimously.
Network Services Update – Ryan Mulhall
- Outages / Customer Issues
- Independence Fiber Cut – April 16, 2020
- Location: 5th Ave SE and 6th St SE, Independence
- Root cause analysis: Independence Power and Light was digging to install fiber with locates that expired on April 1, which damaged ICN fiber. Independence Power and Light helped with the repair. We likely will not try and recover damages as they helped with repair, and we are guests in their Right of Way.
- A few ICN circuits and one customer (Buchanan County Health-Independence) was impacted. Total time of outage was 4 hours and 20 minutes. We completed a permanent repair. There were a lot of circuits built for the HSEMD Wireline/Wireless conversion on the fiber as well, but luckily were not in use yet.
- Ankeny Fiber Cut – May 6, 2020
- Location: SE 72nd St, Ankeny
- Root cause analysis: Locates were not visible with recent rains. Contractor was putting in a sewer line and hit ICN fiber, causing an outage. About 30 customer locations experienced an outage in the Newton/Jasper County area across all sectors.The outage lasted approximately 7 hours. This was a temporary repair and ICN and FNS Outside Plant teams made a permanent fix the following day. The contractor has accepted responsibility for the damages, so this will be recoverable.
- Centerville Fiber Cut – May 7, 2020
- Location: Along Highway 5 and South of 490th Street, North of Centerville
- Root cause analysis: Contractor’s excavator struck and damaged ICN fiber while digging in a residential septic system. Contractor was working on an expired locate ticket, even though the fiber was exposed and marked clearly. The contractor’s backhoe slid down the trench and its front blade cut through the fiber causing the outage. Eleven customer locations were impacted in Centerville. The outage duration was approximately 5 hours. This was a temporary repair and ICN and FNS Outside Plant will be working on a permanent repair in the future. The contractor has accepted responsibility for the damages, so this will be recoverable.
- Independence Fiber Cut – April 16, 2020
- Outside Plant
- This continues to be the busiest year on record in the amount of maintenance projects and activities that are being performed.
- We have had some success lately in recovering costs from disputed fiber cuts. We were able to get back about $70,000 from two cuts that occurred late last calendar year. I want to take this time to thank our representative Alan Nagel with the AG’s office for his help and guidance, and our representatives from Outside Plant and Finance who look out for the ICN’s interests when our network is disrupted.
- Information Systems
- Ed Parker retired on April 30 after 19 years of service not only to the ICN, but to the State of Iowa. Ed was a database administrator and software developer.
- A few of the big projects being worked on include: upgrading Asset Manager, which is utilized to track equipment, circuits, as well as the provisioning tool for engineers. We need to upgrade this in order to finish moving to Windows 10, as it is an important software used across all of the agency.
- Additionally, we continue to work with INRY on configuring the Customer Service Management module within ServiceNow.
- We welcomed our security lead Mike Van Haaften back after four months of military leave for the Army.
- We are continuing to work with the Operations team on additional monitoring capabilities on our firewall platform, and have already had some big successes in finding threats and risks in our lab environment.
- We will also start to turn our attention to building out some solutions to enable us to increase the amount of security services that are provided. Security monitoring, network detection and response, endpoint detection and response, and continuous external vulnerability scanning are what we have identified as potential areas to provide additional value as a Managed Security Service Provider for our authorized and certified users.
Operations/Engineering Update – Dave Marley
- 100GB Network Core Upgrade:
- Migrating circuits off our legacy core to our new core infrastructure (Layer 2).
- Moving forward with expanding our new Internet/IP Infrastructure (Layer 3).
- Preparing Lucas State Office Building and Cedar Rapids site.
- Project is approximately 45-50% completed.
- E911 Wireline Network Project (TDM/Ethernet Solution), Iowa Homeland Security:
- Second datacenter circuit to Davenport will be installed once Windstream finishes the install of the OC12 in June.
- Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP)/Hospital Ciena Upgrades:
- 116 network devices in production (installation and traffic migrated).
- 154 yet to be installed, 22 orders have been issued.
- 49 are waiting customer approval.
- Virtualization Server Platform:
- Virtualization upgrade moving forward.
- Data/Network Integrity: To fix or improve upon operational efficiencies within the ICN.
- TDM/ATM Cleanup: 427 DS3s needed to be removed, 69 are left, with additional 30 disconnect orders.
- COVID-19 - Working back to a more normal move, add, change process.
Chair Kniff McCulla – Do you see any of the rural medical areas reopening?
Randy Goddard – Before we go to sites, our Project Managers and technicians make calls to verify entry. We have not currently been made aware of any long-term closures at clinics.
ITTC Committee Updates – Staff/Commission
Customer and Services Committee – Randy Goddard
Meeting Date: May 13, 2020.
Attendance: Commissioner Holz, Lori Larsen, and Randy Goddard.
- ICN’s authorized user requests. Highlighted Governor’s Disaster Proclamation.
- New customers. US Renal Care Dialysis in Vinton.
- Requests for waivers from certified users. Mississippi Bend AEA.
- Services – Covered COVID-19 services.
- Sales outreach.
- Customer complaints and outages: Presented Ryan Mulhall’s outage information.
Finance Committee – Mike Cruise
Meeting Date: May 11, 2020.
Attendance: Commissioner Olson, Commissioner Holz, and Mike Cruise.
- Review of April financials as presented today.
- Review of the FY21 budget.
Personnel Committee – Mark Johnson
- There was no personnel Committee meeting during the month of May.
Administrative Note: For the minutes, it was noted that Matt Behrens, representing the OCIO and John McCormally, representing the Auditor’s Office were in attendance after roll-call as taken.
Commissioner Holz – As we are developing the questions related to the waiver, it might be useful to consult with the Attorney General’s Office in framing the questions and response sent back to the certified user.
The ITTC meeting adjourned at 11:47 AM.
Barb Kniff McCulla - Chair, Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission