Improving Citizen Experience Is Driving State & Local CIOs

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

CIOs are looking to engage citizens in the way they would like to be engaged – be that through the traditional in-person experience, on the phone, online, through social media or even using AI and chatbots. This was one of the major themes this year that came out of the recent Beyond the Beltway conference (besides the ever-present cybersecurity of course). Both state and local CIOs listed improving the citizen experience as one of their top priorities.

Speakers agreed that no matter the engagement method, the process should be seamless to the citizen, almost like a “one-stop” shop for everything a citizen might need from the government. Read more of this post

If You Want to be Successful in SLED, the Right Contracts Are a Must

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State and local governments buy a wide variety of goods and services – from food stuffs and linens to police radios and technology. They also buy large volumes of goods and services, which could present a financial risk if they’re not purchased from a reputable source at a fair price. That’s why competitively bid contracts are essential to both government and vendors.

Government Benefits From Competitively Bid Contracts

To guarantee that the state or local government is getting the best value and a fair price, state and local governments leverage a competitive process to determine the vendor(s) who best meet this criteria. This competitive process results in one or more awarded contracts that specify what the government may purchase, from whom they can purchase and a guaranteed maximum price. This reduces the overall risk for the government – something extremely important to ensure their continued ability to serve their citizens. Read more of this post

State Budget Documents: Treasure Troves of Information for IT Vendors

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State budgets are certainly not the most exciting topics in the world, but they offer many clues into key areas where you can target your sales campaigns. Budget documents provide insight into the areas state and local governments plan to invest funds, identify areas of concern and often outline key priorities for the upcoming year or two.

Most state governments operate on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year. The process starts with agencies receiving guidelines from the governor on priorities and mandates for the upcoming year. This typically occurs during the fall and is the best time to work with agencies as they scope out their business cases for inclusion in next year’s budget.

Agencies work with their budget office to finalize budgets before submitting final documents to the governor. With the governor’s approval, final budgets are submitted to the legislature, typically in the winter. The legislature is then tasked with reviewing, reconciling and approving before the start of the next fiscal year.

By the end of January, most states have submitted their budgets to the legislature and governors are beginning to make their “State-of-the-State” speeches which outline their budget priorities. While you can find the text and video recordings for each of these speeches online, here are some of the key themes you’ll see in many FY2021 budgets and what they might mean for you:   Read more of this post

HAVA Grants Provide Funding for States to Protect Election Systems

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

With just about a year before the general election and eight months before the primaries, the rush is on to identify and mitigate any potential security gaps in election systems!

Our national election system is a very complex network and involves multiple stakeholders including federal, state and local public entities, private companies and citizens. Multiple IT systems and databases that manage and support voter registration, polling books, vote tallying and election night results – are all potential points of vulnerability.

Updating and/or replacing these systems is not cheap, and with already strapped budgets, this strains state and local governments alike. While some governments have already invested in systems upgrades and improvements, many others will be looking for help from the vendor community before the next big general election.

HAVA Grants Fund Election System Upgrades

The good news is that there are funds available to state and local entities in the form of grants from the “Help America Vote Act” – or HAVA. In March 2019, an additional $380M from the federal government was provided to states to help with election security improvements. Each state received a base of $3M with the remainder of the $380M distributed by voting age population. Smaller states typically only received the base $3M, but larger states like California received upwards of $34M. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

IT Modernization Means Collaboration for New Jersey CTO

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear from New Jersey’s Chief Technology Officer, Chris Rein, while listening in on a Corporate Leadership Council meeting hosted by NASCIO. Rein took over the job of CTO 16 months ago following the election of a new governor.

One of Rein’s biggest challenges will be updating and modernizing many of the outdated legacy systems. They “have some very old and spotty technology infrastructure,” with the oldest systems being nearly 50 years old, Rein explained during the call. Saying you need to replace these legacy systems is one thing but actually being able to fund a replacement system is whole different animal. Rein has been working with the state’s treasurer to develop a strategy to modernize these systems and speed up the RFP process as well. Read more of this post

Arkansas CIO All In on Shared Services

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Arkansas has begun its digital transformation and is moving ever closer to a shared services model. Last month, Arkansas CIO Yessica Jones briefed the NASCIO Corporate Member Exchange on some of the recent changes in her state.

Probably the most impactful change was the re-organization following the passing of the Transformation and General Efficiencies Act during the past general legislative session. The act consolidated 42 departments into 15. Previously the Department of Information Systems, Arkansas’ central IT department reported directly to the governor, along with 41 other departments. Under the new structure, the Department of Information Systems has become a division under the Secretary for Transformation & Shared Services.

Jones believes that new department structure will improve IT project delivery, especially since all new secretaries have been tasked with identifying potential shared services opportunities. Several projects are already underway to deliver additional shared services to executive-branch agencies, including deploying enterprise-wide Microsoft Office 365, optimizing their data center, implementing mainframe as a service and several enterprise-wide agreements. Read more of this post

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