SLED 101 Series – Follow the Funding

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

This second installment of our SLED 101 series focuses on funding and budget cycles.

Not all money is created equal when it comes to state, local and education (SLED) funding. Understanding where money comes from and how budgets are built will help you better time and align your sales efforts to when your customers will be most receptive to new IT project ideas.

Funding sources dictate spending flexibility.

Let’s start by understanding the different sources of spending. The largest chunk of spending in most states comes out of what is typically referred to as the General funds budget. This budget represents the largest share of revenue collected by states and significantly impacts a state’s overall ability to spend. General funds have the most flexibility and are recurring funds received yearly. They can be used for a variety of products and services, including include IT. Most of your sales will come from this budget.

The other pieces of the pie, like Federal or Other state fees, have stipulations and limitations on their use, making them a bit more challenging to leverage. This isn’t to say that there aren’t IT opportunities related to Federal funds or Other state fees, just that those funds are less flexible in their use and allocation.

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SLED 101 Series – What is the SLED market?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

Welcome to the first blog of our SLED 101 series. Over the next few months, you’ll see a series of blogs that walk through the basics of the state, local and education markets. Topics will include understanding the budget cycles, identifying the IT budget, navigating CIO priorities, understanding procurement, differentiating master contracts and cooperative contracts, and finally, comparing the SLED market to the federal market.

To kick things off, I wanted to start by defining what the SLED market entails and why understanding their independence is crucial to success. When we talk about SLED, we are talking about more than 90,000 different government organizations.

  • 50 States
  • 3,000+ Counties / Boroughs / Parishes
  • 36,000+ Cities / Towns / Municipalities
  • 12,000+ Public School Systems
  • 2,000+ Higher Education Institutions
  • 38,000+ Special Districts
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Three Top Cloud Opportunities in the SLED Market

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

As I discussed in my recent session at the Arrow Technology Summit (now available on-demand), state and local governments are slowly making investments to upgrade and update aging legacy IT systems. As they do, they are presented with opportunities to increase their use of the cloud to provide digital and online services that will expand their constituent support — an especially important goal as many government buildings are currently closed.

While state governments are making larger and more substantial migrations to cloud services, many states are still working on what I’ll call the basics, things like email or other collaboration tools. Also topping the list are disaster recovery and office productivity tools. States that had already migrated these solutions to the cloud have had a significant advantage in terms of their preparedness to support a large-scale work-from-home environment. Read more of this post

SLED Cybersecurity Opportunities: The “Whole-of-State” Approach

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

Cybersecurity incidents increase every year, and state, local and education entities are struggling to respond in the face of limited funding and resources.

As I talked about in a recent virtual event, that response is taking the form of a synchronized “whole-of-state” approach to state and local cybersecurity initiatives. In this approach, all stakeholders – state IT, national guard, local law enforcement, local government and schools – are pulled together to develop a cohesive and coordinated response plan. The plan leverages state services, such as incident management, awareness and training, forensics, use of the security operations center and vulnerability management.

The potentially good news here is that additional federal funding may be coming to help states and local governments tackle cyber issues. The House has passed the State & Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act. If enacted as law, this measure will provide some $400M per year for states to coordinate with local governments on a cohesive security plan and response strategy, and to support upgrades to state and local systems.

Here are just a few categories of opportunities to consider, in this new era of SLED cybersecurity: Read more of this post

Recent NASCIO 2020 Survey Reveals Shifting CIO Priorities

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State governments have been on a roller-coaster ride as they have had to deal with a wide range of obstacles that have presented themselves in the last nine months. Responding to immediate enterprise-wide remote work requirements and the dramatic increases in online service demand have made it a particularly challenging time. But, at the same time, it has given states an opportunity to move forward transformation and modernization initiatives.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) publishes an annual survey of state CIOs and their perspectives. The 2020 State CIO Survey reveals insights from 47 states on how they are managing their IT enterprise and infrastructure and what they are anticipating in the upcoming year.

The overwhelming assumption by state CIOs is that work-from-home and remote-work options will not only continue but expand. In fact, CIOs from the States of Tennessee and Vermont believe that most of their workforces will be working from home through the remainder of the current school year. Read more of this post

Technology to Aid State Contact Tracing Efforts

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

States are increasingly leveraging technology to help state and local officials trace and contain virus outbreaks – and each state seems to be taking a different approach. Everything from calls and texts to apps and online forms is being used. Patient contact tracing methods vary widely across the states — from centralized tracing by state health departments to decentralized methods that rely on calls and texts sent by individual local health departments.

What’s common is the need for case-management systems that manage interactions and follow-up activities. These systems organize information that contact tracers collect through their outreach, as well as information entered through online portals by citizens themselves.

Data collected by these case management systems can help states identify the total number of cases, hospitalizations, etc., by geography. These systems are typically robust tools that provide everything from analytical dashboards to mass communication tools. But there is so much more states can do with the data by integrating their case management systems with other state-based eligibility and aid systems, such as Medicaid management information systems or unemployment insurance systems — all while protecting sensitive patient information. Read more of this post

Cybersecurity Spending Continues in State Government

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

By now, most of us are aware of the budgetary restrictions many states will be under due to reduced revenue collections. Arkansas will experience cuts of about $250 million in the next fiscal year. Utah could see budget cuts up to 10%, while Vermont may see budget cuts of up to 25%. This will most likely restrict the number of new projects, but one area many state CIOs expressed continued support for is cybersecurity.

During recent round table discussions hosted by NASCIO, budgets and budget cuts were top of mind for CIOs as they shared top priorities for the coming fiscal year. Many stated that they were continuing with their initiatives as best they could, balancing funding with requirements. Initiatives include projects like service digitization, automation, customer relationship management, and in many cases, improving cybersecurity frameworks.

Some states are planning to leverage funding they receive through the CARES Act for technology, while others are trying to find alternative ways to finance new and ongoing initiatives alike. Despite budget cuts, there is one area continuing to receive CIO attention — cybersecurity. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening across the country:  Read more of this post

AI Is on the Upswing in State Government

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

When it comes to artificial intelligence, most states are just beginning to uncover its potential.

As I discussed in a recent webinar, AI usage thus far has been mostly experimental. Recent survey data from the Center for Digital Government demonstrates that nearly a third of those surveyed about their current deployment of AI are doing so through proof-of-concept projects.

While widespread use of AI is not taking place, the good news is that the share of states NOT using AI is only 12% — meaning there are far more states open to using AI than not. This is a wide-open field with few standards or common threads from project to project and provides an opportunity for AI vendors to approach state and local governments with their technology. Read more of this post

Cyber Insurance Is Not an IT Strategy

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Ransomware attacks on our state and local governments’ IT infrastructure are increasing at an alarming rate and our customers are looking at cyber insurance to mitigate risk. But cyber insurance shouldn’t be confused with a sound cybersecurity strategy that guards against attacks in the first place.

Here’s what you need to know about cyber insurance and how you can work with customers to develop cyber strategies that will serve them for the long term. Read more of this post

State & Local Governments Focus on Continuity of Operations

Rachel Eckert

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Fiscal environments at the state and local government level are very different today than they were even a few weeks ago. Budgets presented earlier this year are now being adjusted, as many governments face an upcoming revenue shortfall.

Taxes that would have been collected on our trips to the movies, restaurants and shopping malls are now not flowing into government treasuries. Fairfax County, Virginia, for example, is predicting significantly less revenue due to drops in sales tax collections, hotel occupancy taxes, car taxes, business taxes and more. With less revenue, they will have to delay some or all new programs, including additional funding for school technology purchases, police body cameras and affordable housing.

The impact is felt beyond Fairfax County. Seattle, Washington is predicting a revenue shortfall of $110 million. The State of New York comptroller has estimated that the current crisis could cost the state $7 billion in lost revenues for their fiscal year 2021, which started April 1.

State and local governments will still need to acquire IT though. As they navigate the current fiscal environment they will only be able to think about what’s most essential for their continued operations. Here’s how you can help support their critical needs: Read more of this post

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