Collaboration and Innovation Top of Mind at NASCIO Conference

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

The overwhelming theme at this year’s NASCIO conference centered on the idea of innovation. Throughout the event, state CIOs shared their innovative approaches to managing IT and the business of government.

One of the innovative approaches was increasing collaboration with local governments. Collaboration between state and local government isn’t necessarily new, but today it means much more and goes way beyond funding and MOUs.

Shared Goals

One innovative approach state and local governments are taking to collaboration involves a shared goal. For example, in the wake of the many recent high-profile ransomware attacks, state CIOs shared that they’d received an increase in support requests from their local governments.

Indiana’s CIO, Dewand Neely, brought up the question on just about everyone’s mind, “What role should the state play as local government calls on their assistance more?” In some states – like Wisconsin, Michigan and Texas – that role has shifted from being a provider of software, hardware or contracts, to a facilitator of services. This is a big change in culture and an innovative approach to developing a whole-state approach to cybersecurity – one that places the state as the facilitator for training, planning and remediation.

Expanding the Lens Beyond Government

Collaboration hasn’t been limited to cybersecurity. The shared goal stretches into the opioid epidemic.

An innovation New Jersey has undertaken expands traditional government data-sharing practices by including private sector data as well. By combining data from government health departments, state police, local law enforcement, local forensic labs, pharmacies and doctors, the state has created a real-time dashboard that identifies not only presence of opioids but the type as well – making response more effective. Thinking innovatively led the state to expand their lens beyond government and consider the epidemic holistically – involving all stakeholders.

Small, Incremental Changes

The innovations many states are driving are small incremental changes, like opening up contracts for local governments to access during incidents or providing training to local governments on cyber hygiene. These innovative steps are also indicative of the larger trend within state and local government to be more goal oriented.

Vendor Considerations

Those of us in the vendor community will need to shift our approach and engagement model to become more collaborative. Here are some ways we can engage more effectively:

  • Focus on the end goal. Ensure your solution helps solve the state or local government’s problem. Will it help them combat cybersecurity threats and prevent ransomware attacks? Will it support the fight against the opioid epidemic?
  • Think about the larger picture. While state and local governments enjoy a lot of autonomy, the reality is that they can’t operate in a bubble. More and more local governments realize that a whole-state approach makes them more resilient and better positioned to serve their citizens.
  • Think outside the box. Creativity and innovation is being encouraged at all levels of government, especially with the rise in the creation of chief innovation officers. Finding new methods of solving problems is helping governments deliver services faster and more efficiently. What creative solutions do you have that can speed up service delivery or improve accuracy?

Innovation here means shifting the focus away from the technology and focusing on the problem. Innovation won’t happen in a vacuum, but through collaboration between governments, vendors, and citizens.


Interested in hearing about the innovative approaches state and local governments are taking to combat cybersecurity threats? Join me at the 6th Annual Government IT Sales Summit on November 21.

Want to keep on top of the latest IT trends in government? Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

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