Skip Main Navigation
Official Nebraska Government Website
Skip Side Navigation


Nebraska Information Technology Commission
Friday, January 4, 2002, 9:30 a.m.

Videoconference Sites:
Lincoln-521 South 14th Street, Suite 103
Kearney-Kearney Public Library and Information Center, 2020 First Avenue
Omaha-UNMC, NVCN/MTVN Room 4203
Norfolk-Northeast Community College, MaClay Building, 801 East Benjamin Avenue, Room 122


MEMBERS PRESENT-LINCOLN: Chris Anderson, City of Ashland; Len Benson, Faith Regional Health System; Gene Hand, Public Service Commission; Donna Hammack, St. Elizabeth Foundation; Lance Hedquist, City of South Sioux City; Ron Heezen, Omaha Public Libraries; Craig Schroeder, Rural Development Commission (via phone bridge); Bob Sweeney, AIM Institute; Bruce Thiel, Bryan-LGH East; Gary Warren, Hamilton Communications; and Mary Wernke, Letter Perfect Communications

MEMBERS PRESENT-KEARNEY: Jeanne Saathoff, Kearney Public Library


MEMBERS PRESENT-NORFOLK: Ted Smith, Norfolk Public Library

MEMBERS ABSENT: Harold Krueger, Chadron Community Hospital; Jim Lowe, Midwest MicroSystems; Stu Miller Nebraska Department of Economic; Michael Nolan, City of Norfolk; and Ted Schultz, Nebraska Association of Hospitals and Health Systems

OTHERS PRESENT: Anne Byers, Steve Schafer, and Tom Rolfes, Office of the CIO/NITC; Andre Boening, USDA-RUS; Kit Keller, Library Commission; and Brenda Decker, Division of Communications


Due to the Lincoln being the main meeting site, the co-chairs at different location sites and for convenience purposes, the meeting was called to order and conducted by Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager. There were twelve members present at the time of roll call. A quorum existed to conduct official business.


Mr. Hedquist moved to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Heezen seconded the motion. All were in favor. The motion was carried by voice vote.


There was no public comment.


The Lieutenant Governor was not available for the meeting.

Brenda Decker, Director, Division of Communications, State of Nebraska

The State of Nebraska attempted to aggregate the State’s, educational institutions and communities telecommunications needs. State had no authority to contract on behalf of local communities. An RFP was released in August. Four of the five bids met the requirements of the RFP – Worldcom, ATT, Qwest, and Sprint. Representatives from state government and educational institutions served on the selection committee. On October 19th, a notice was issued that the state did not award. Every bid proposed a private network – this was not the intent of the project. The project is not being abandoned. Lieutenant Governor Heineman, Chair of the NITC, has met with the telecommunications industry and will be meeting with the educational communities, regarding their focus and opinions as to next steps for the project.

Ms. Saathoff arrived to the meeting at the Kearney videoconference site.

Ms. Decker entertained questions regarding the RFP and the proof of concept test in certain communities. It was recommended that testing be done in communities with strong supportive business sectors such as Aurora and North Platte.

Mr. Schroeder joined the meeting via the phone meet-me-bridge.

Tom Rolfes, Education Information Technology Manager

The Technical Panel of the NITC commissioned a standards workgroup to study and make recommendations on synchronous distance learning video and audio standards.

The Work Group consisted of two representatives from each of the following: K-12, Higher Education, NET and from the NETC. Twenty-eight professionals in distance learning education from across the state were involved in half-day video standards testing sessions.

By unanimous vote, it was the recommendation of the standards work group that Nebraska adopt a dual standard. For higher data rate applications intending to use full-motion video MPEG 2 should be adopted. For those applications that do not have a need for full motion, H.263 video with G.722 audio should be adopted. It was the intent of this group to designate a single standard. It is still the belief of this body that a single standard should be able to suffice. At issue is hardware availability.

The recommendation will go before the Technical Panel, Tuesday, January 8th, for review and/or approval. The NITC will take action on the video standards at the January 23rd meeting.

LB 833 funds ($3 million over three years) were appropriated to provide engineering equipment to high schools that don’t have distance learning capabilities. Currently, 45 of the 65 schools without distance education capabilities have applied for assistance. The video standards work group report recommends that any existing facilities and standards remain in place and new standard would be implemented at time of renewal of contracts.

Mr. Rolfes entertained questions from the Council. Mr. Boening informed the Council that the United States Department of Agriculture has field offices in each county in the state. USDA’s telecommunications goals are same as the state. Mr. Boening stated he would like to see state and federal government collaborate towards these goals.

Steve Schafer, Chief Information Officer

At the October 31st NITC meeting, the Commission passed a resolution to evaluate the feasibility of the development of a digital network and related support functions to serve education, communities, and state government. The draft charter will be forwarded to the NITC for final approval and adoption at the January 23rd meeting.

The objectives of the workgroup include the following:

  1. Report on the strengths and deficiencies of existing telecommunications networks serving state and local public sector entities;
  2. Examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks pertaining to the concept of a statewide digital network;
  3. Basic requirements and critical success factors for a statewide digital network;
  4. Address security issues related to a statewide digital network;
  5. Evaluate different models for implementing a statewide consortium, including participation, governance, and operational authority;
  6. Solicit suggestions and comments from affected entities;
  7. Report findings and recommendations, including relationship to NETCOM and incremental options for consideration by the NITC;
  8. Prepare a business case and estimate of fiscal impact for all recommendations and options;
  9. Report on different funding models and strategies and the corresponding levels of service; and
  10. If needed to attain the goals listed above in an efficient manner, develop a set of statutory changes for consideration by the NITC for recommendation to the Governor and Legislature.

The proposed membership of a work group for this evaluation is as follows:

  • Education: Two members each from K-12 and Higher Education, as determined by the NITC Education Council;
  • Communities: One member each from telehealth, public libraries, and local government, as determined by the NITC Community Council;
  • State Government: The Chief Information Officer; and
  • Technical Panel: One member each from Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, University of Nebraska Computing Services Network, DAS Division of Communications, and DAS Information Management Services, as determined by the NITC Technical Panel.

Mr. Schafer will follow-up on the recommendation to speak with Jim Barr, URS, regarding the federal government’s cooperation and collaboration.

The following members were selected to serve on the Nebraska Digital Network Work Group:
Libraries – Ted Smith (Jeanne Saathoff, Alternate)
Local government – Members will discuss this and report back to Ms. Byers.

Discussion followed regarding the involvement of the private sector as a representative of the Council on the work group.

Mr. Heezen moved to make a recommendation to the NITC to include one more member from the Community Council to serve on the Nebraska Digital Network Work Group. Mr. Hedquist seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Anderson-Yes, Benson-Yes, Hand-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Heezen-Yes, Schroeder-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Thiel-Yes, Warren-Yes, Wernke-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Thacker-Yes, and Smith-Yes. The motion was carried by majority vote.

Mr. Schafer will take this request to the NITC at the January meeting.

Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager

Mr. Thiel left the meeting.

The Toolkit is up and has received publicity via a news release from the Governor’s Office. The Telehealth section is still under development. Mr. Schroeder summarized Rural Development Commission's Survey of Community IT Committees. Members were encouraged to inform Ms. Byers or Mr. Schroeder of anyone else that needed to be part of the survey. Mr. Anderson has a list serve of Nebraska city managers. It was suggested to include them on the NITC newsletter list.

TAN (Technologies Across Nebraska) ACTION PLAN (PDF 87k)
Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager

At the December meeting, Dr. Jim Emal and Steve Schafer presented a draft action plan to the group for their review and input. Volunteers were organized to further develop the action. This was brought to the council for their information.

Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager

The Leadership Center in Aurora, Nebraska will be the conference site. The draft outline of the conference program was reviewed. Some of the highlights included:

  • Mobile workshop to different I.T. sites and project in Aurora
  • Cost thus far is $12.50 per person. This includes lunch. A continental breakfast could be provided for additional cost per person.
  • Senator Tom Osborne has been invited to speak but has not been confirmed
  • Lieutenant Governor Heineman has been asked to provide the welcome.
  • April 12th was a date that both Senator Osborne and the Lieutenant Governor were available.
  • The keynote speaker will be Al Wenstrand, Director of Economic Development
  • Providing mini-grants for communities that send two persons to the workshop to assist them with community IT strategic planning is a concept that is will be discussed with Lieutenant Governor Heineman, Chair of the NITC.

Council members provided suggestions for workshop sessions and speakers. The following members volunteered to assist with the conference planning: Craig Schroeder, Mary Wernke, Gary Warren, Bob Sweeney, and possibly Lance Hedquist. Members were encouraged to send additional ideas to Ms. Byers via e-mail.

Ms.Saathoff, Mr. Smith, Mr. Thacker, and Mr. Warren left the meeting.

Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager

The deadline for submitted a Letter of Intent to Apply is January 18th. Five letters have been received so far. The deadline for the grant applications is February 15th.


Ron Heezen was nominated by Bob Sweeney to serve as co-chair. There were no other nominations from the floor. Mr. Heezen accepted the nomination for Co-chair of the Community Council.

Roll call vote to elect Ron Heezen as Co-Chair of the Community Council: Anderson-Yes, Benson-Yes, Hand-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Heezen-Abstained, Schroeder-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, and Wernke-Yes. The motion was carried by majority vote of 8-Yes and 1-Abstained.


Members asked if the Governor’s Office would send a press release thanking Craig Schroeder for serving as Co-Chair of the Council. Ms. Byers will follow up.

Mr. Hand announced that the 911 Wireless advisory Committee has been named. The following persons are serving on the advisory committee: Sheriff Neil Miller, Sheriff Buffalo County; Fred Uhe, Sarpy County; Kevin Hergott, Jefferson County 911; Bill McClarty, Mayor South Sioux City; Lt. John Herron, Chadron Police Department; Gary McClaughlin, Alltel Wireless; Mark Masterson, Cellular One Wireless; Julie Righter, Manager Lincoln 911; Virginia Vance, Service Manager Qwest Communications; Gerald Vap, Public Service Commission, Commissioner, Region 5; Bob Howard, Department of Administrative Services, Communications Division; Kara Thielen, Director Wireless E911; and Laura Davenport, Commission Staff Attorney.

Mr. Hand offered to have the Public Service Commission provide an update on the project to the Council.


Ms. Byers will send out some possible dates for a March.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 noon.

Minutes were taken by Lori Lopez Urdiales and reviewed by Anne Byers, Office of the CIO/NITC.

Meeting Minutes