2019 Technology Conference and Exposition

Official Conference Agenda

Click here to download.

Presentations and Materials

Presentations will be posted on a rolling basis as they are available.  If you are looking for a specific presentation and don't see it here, send an email to [email protected]


General Sessions

Where does software come from?
Eric Johnson, GitHub

Everyone knows where software comes from: you slide pizza under the door of a developer's darkened room, and out comes code.

Nothing against pizza, but nowadays the truth is much more interesting. Software comes from:

  • A farmer tired of driving his tractor down the same old ruts
  • Astronomers photographing a black hole
  • Federal and state policy folks encouraging sharing across agencies

Today's software development is a team sport, with many more disciplines represented and many more participants. 

Come hear what's changed in software practice now that each of us carries a supercomputer in our pocket.

  • How the availability of inexpensive hardware and open-source software opens "software development" to a much wider audience — experts in non-software fields and amateurs alike
  • Why collaboration is more important than ever to contemporary software practice
  • How commercial product practices are changing government policy and practice
  • Why open-source software is a multiplier for your own efforts
  • What are the most important implications for security

Most of all, you'll walk away with a picture of our current world of shared, open-source code — and learn how software can come from you.


Lessons Learned from Michigan's Data Analytics and Governance Team: Building Successful Communication Lines Between Technical and Business Stakeholders
Gideon Lowe, Michigan Department of Treasury

Building an analytics team requires a team that understands both technical and business needs.  Securing the necessary tools, prioritizing projects, and delivering results all require collaboration and communication with your IT team.  This session will talk about the work of the Data Analytics and Governance Team, where they are on their journey to meet the needs of their agency, and how they have built a clear line of communication across the business-technical divide.


Lessons Learned from Modernization: Experiences from three states to benefit you at any stage of your modernization cycle. 
Robin Aro and Penny Wires, Comptroller of Maryland
Heidi Geathers, Washington State Department of Revenue
Rahul Sarathy, Rhode Island Department of Revenue

This can't-miss session features three stories that highlight a unique challenge or lesson learned from the modernization process.  We'll hear about tax type selection for a new modernization project, training and testing in a modernized environment, and follow-on business process changes and considerations that a fully modern platform can bring to your agency.  Following these three stories, we'll include questions from the audience in a brief panel discussion.




Breakout Sessions - Monday

IRS Safeguards: Get a First Look at Upcoming Changes
Steve Matteson, IRS Safeguards
Megan Ripley, IRS Safeguards

The Office of Safeguards will be coming out with an updated and reformatted Publication 1075 later this year. Get the first look at some of the major changes, including aligning with the new NIST 800-53 Rev 5, NIST 800-63 Digital Identity Guidelines and the addition of several Privacy controls. We will also look at updates to Multifactor Authentication, Cloud and Background Investigation requirements.


Taking Security Awareness Training to the Next Level
Bethany Rawls, South Carolina Department of Revenue 

Do you want to promote a culture of cybersecurity in your agency?  Do you want your agency to be hyper-vigilant in keeping taxpayer and agency data safe and secure?  The South Carolina Department of revenue recently undertook a new, three-pronged approach to Security Awareness Training and created entertaining and informative opportunities to reinforce learning about this essential topic.  This session will include takeaways to help you bring these ideas to your agency.


Small State, Big Ideas:  Innovations in Organizational Change from IT Transformation
Neena Savage, Rhode Island Division of Taxation

How do we change our organizational structure, culture, and business processes to maximize the full potential of our new integrated tax computer software system?  The following factors also help to further contextualize the problem: High Turnover, New Technology, Existing Issues, Shifting Impacts, Morale, Agile Workforce, and Union.


IRS Efile Update
Syed Abbas, IRS
Juanita Wueller, IRS

Update for filing season covering stats of federal and state volume year to date (YTD). Looking forward at the rest of the year activities such as ATS start-up and end of year cutover for IMF and BMF. State specific reports such as state report card of each state’s activity and YTD volume. Discuss best practices for MeF and most efficient ways to resolve issues in a timely manner.


Positive Incentives for Phishing Identification and Avoidance
Brain Ventura, City of Portland

Phishing is a major issue today. Workforce members interacting with their email could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages with the click of a mouse. With ransomware and exposed data threats, how do we protect the organization? Do we fire the worker? Do we buy fancy tools? Can we stop doing email? What can we do? In this discussion we will consider the options for both positive and negative feedback, tools and phishing testing.


Maryland’s Playbook of Change – Launch a Change Ambassador Program
Robin Aro, Comptroller of Maryland

Maryland’s program to address the human side of tech modernization is an FTA Award Winner. The Cultural Change Management program was created to accompany an integrated tax modernization program. These vast and complex integration projects stretch over years and involve multiple vendors and touch nearly all areas of an agency. Maryland created a network of program champions who maintain two-way communications and identify potential risk areas from an employee adoption standpoint


Meeting IRS Safeguards
Becca Estes, Alabama Department of Revenue
Brenda Lindsay, Michigan Department of Treasury
Moderator: Verenda Smith, FTA

This panel of states will discuss successes, challenges, and other best practices for meeting IRS Safeguards.  Bring your questions and experiences – audience participation at this session is encouraged!


Risks and Benefits of Authentication and Account Creation Techniques
Dan Petty, Credit Karma Tax 

This session will explore the answer to the questions: 1) What information may be helpful to collect at account creation? 2) How do you know the person logging in is the person who opened the account? 3) What are restricted factors vs. unrestricted factors, and what does their use really mean for account security?


Electronic Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate
Andrea Northwood, Wisconsin Department of Revenue

Many years ago, DOR consolidated more the 10 exemption certificates into one that could be used by any purchaser.  The number of exemptions has increased steadily.  The list of sales and use tax exemptions available on the Wisconsin paper sales and use tax exemption certificate now exceeds a two-sided piece of paper.  Join Wisconsin’s project leaders to learn how they solved this problem implemented a comprehensive electronic sales and use tax certificate – and how you can too.


Breakout Sessions - Tuesday

The Current State of Cybersecurity
Brent Rambo, Intuit
Joe Lillie, Intuit

This session will take a look at the current cybersecurity threat landscape and will provide insights into trends for the coming year.


FTA Award Winner - Electronic Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) Process
Timothy Sanders, Alabama Department of Revenue

Previously, manual applications were filed and emails were used as a mode to keep all team members who work within the VDA process notified when additional information was requested or an agreement was approved. With the online portal, any team member with access can view the status of an application and any information that has been requested.


Decoding the Customer Experience – “Knowing Your Customer” Isn’t Just for Banks and Retailers Anymore
Lisa Loftis, SAS

Customer intelligence is the process of collecting and interpreting data from consumers to find the best ways to serve them.  In a recent Harvard study, 79% of respondents indicated that the ability to deliver positive, real-time customer interactions will be extremely important in the next few years. Yet only 16% rate themselves as very efficient in this area.  Why does this matter to a government tax agency?  The quality of an taxpayer’s Customer Experience (“CX”) impacts their view of your organization and ultimately their behavior. In this session we will decode CX, explain what it is, illuminate the role of data in shaping citizen journeys, and highlight how successful organizations are implementing CX technology.  Come learn about best practices used by household names such as the LA Kings, Orlando Magic, NY Mets, Chico’s, and 1-800-Flowers to keep their customers (and fans!) engaged, satisfied, and coming back for more.


Using NIST Guidelines to Establish Requirements for the Security of the Tax Ecosystem
Robert Cox, IRS
Raja Sambandam, New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department
Sidney Gibson, MITRE

Members of the Security Summit STAR (Strategic Threat Assessment and Response) working group will offer insights and background on the current recommendations of the group and the importance of them.  This discussion will offer an understanding into how NIST guidelines can be used to establish and improve the security posture of the entire tax ecosystem.


The Current State of Processing
Chris Barry, Idaho State Tax Commission
Paul Leiter, Indiana Department of Revenue
Vince Panepinto, Louisiana Department of Revenue

Join our state panelists in taking a look at the current state of revenue processing.  This discussion will cover challenges that remain, different approaches to processing, and other items that exist in this special realm where paper, digital returns, and modern IT systems converge.


Life after a Tax Systems Modernization
Rhode Island Department of Revenue

Congratulations! You’re within weeks of converting your last major taxes to the new system and it operates as planned. With the implementation project winding down, it is time to focus on system operations. Please join us as we discuss tax system operations' roles, transition of
responsibilities from vendors, and system adoption from an operations perspective.


Your Legacy Collections System in the Modern World
Robin Aro, Comptroller of Maryland
Jeremy Howard, ASR Analytics
Marty Bidwell, ASR Analytics

Assessment amounts are a popular measure of Compliance Programs effectiveness, but do they tell the whole story?  In this presentation, you will learn how your Department can use modern technology to efficiently and cost-effectively enhance your legacy systems to gain deeper insight into non-compliance and collectability.


Insourcing vs. Outsourcing – when, how, and why?
Ron Johnson, Georgia Department of Revenue
Darcy Pyle, Georgia Department of Revenue
Michael Smith, Iron Mountain

Many state agencies utilize vendors as part of their processing flow.  This panel will look at different processing scenarios and what to consider when considering insourcing or outsourcing.  Volume, in-house capabilities, capacities, and regulatory requirements will all make an appearance in this exciting discussion.


Citizen Journey Mapping and the Road to Strategic Planning and Business Process Improvement
Frank Nestore, Mathtech, Inc.
Jason Woodcock, Mathtech, Inc.

This presentation will include an introduction to Journey Mapping and include public and private sector examples. Journey Mapping is a useful tool in strategic planning and business process improvement and can be used to highlight the perspective, challenges, and needs of citizens and other agency partners. The presentation also discusses how Journey Mapping concepts can be directly included in strategic planning exercises.


Using Intelligent Mail Barcodes - Smart Postal Mail 
Shane Lenker, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue

The PA Dept. of Revenue has recently implemented the Intelligent Mail Barcode on most outbound correspondence.  This barcode is used in a variety of ways by DOR and the post office to get mail where it needs to go to quicker and more efficiently.  DOR also now has a way to update address information automatically from the post office without having users review and update accounts manually.  The project has not only lessened the need for manual work but has also seen direct ROI with mail making to the taxpayers quicker and thus, taxpayers sending in payments sooner.


The Future of Processing
Steve Chahal, Fairfax Software
Denis Lyatkin, TDEC
Michael Smith, Iron Mountain
Moderator: Jonathan Lyon, FTA

With the changing landscape of technology, labor, and regulation, processing in five or ten years will certainly not look like it does today.  Join this panel for a discussion on what the future of processing might look like.  This session will offer you a glance into the crystal ball of industry processing experts on what they see as the key trends to watch and where they think future-proofing efforts are best spent.


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Rich Brunner, RSI

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) take center stage, many organizations are realizing the benefits of more accurate information, reduced human costs, and quicker turnaround for citizens to get needed information.  Join us for a discussion on how AI and ML can enable your agency to deliver more value for your constituents, reduce costs, and engage your taxpayers in a way they have come to expect.


Breakout Sessions - Wednesday

Information Governance in an Age of Distributed Data
Michael Smith, Iron Mountain

Now more than ever our data lives in multiple locations and formats and must be secured to very high standards.  This session will take a holistic look at Information Governance from a legal, business, and technical perspective.  Examples from states, the federal government, and private industry will lay the foundation of understanding for taking these tools back to your agency.  Issues relating to IRS pub 1075 will also be discussed.


Analytics Everywhere
Ted London, FICO

This topic will explore analytics within audit selection, tax discovery, collections, and even customer service.


E-Standards Update Panel
Terry Garber, FTA
Steve Thimsen, Idaho State Tax Commission

Learn about the current status of FTA's E-Standards Programs and learn how you can contribute?  This topic will also continue during the E-Standards meeting Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.


Powering Identity Resolution and Insight with Next-Gen Technology
Mason Carpenter, Experian

As more and more consumer interactions go digital and identity fraud continues to evolve, effective identity resolution has become increasingly complex and important.  This session will describe how Experian has applied machine learning to tackle this problem and unlock new insights on synthetic identities and other difficult identity challenges.


Solution Series - Tuesday

The Infinite Canvas: Analyzing Social Networks in Virtual Reality
Michael Thomas, SAS

Virtual Reality (VR) has improved in quality and decreased in price in recent years. Enterprises are increasingly finding usages of this immersive (and fun!) technology.  This presentation explores the use of Virtual Reality for fraud investigations and data exploration backed by the SAS® Viya® analytics engine. With VR, networks of transactions can be explored in immersive 3D. Advanced analytics and machine learning combine with VR to create an intuitive, interactive, and productive analyst experience.   Come see it in action to learn about the technology that makes VR work, and visit the SAS booth to try it out for yourself!

Solution Series - Tuesday

Government Digital Transformation and the Cloud
John Walker, Chief Technical Architect, RSI
Kunal Tanwar, Director SLG Team, Microsoft

As technological and regulatory issues of government computing drive decisions toward the cloud, citizens expect greater digital experiences, cybersecurity diligence and rapid technological advancement. Creating meaningful transitions to cloud implementation has never been more critical. Join us as we discuss cloud adoption in taxation and the architectural design choices behind them.