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

States Improving Cybersecurity Posture Through NGA Partnership

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

The National Governors Association (NGA) recently announced a partnership with states and territories that are looking to enhance their cybersecurity posture through the implementation of key controls to mitigate future attacks.

After a competitive application process, the six states and one territory chosen were Arkansas, Guam, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington. Through a series of workshops between now and the end of the year, NGA, along with their respective homeland security agencies and National Guard units, will coordinate with state agencies, local government and K-12 schools to develop methods of improving existing cybersecurity approaches.

During the workshops, participants will brainstorm new methods to protect critical infrastructure, and vendors may discover new business opportunities. In addition to developing more comprehensive strategies and collaborating with neighboring governments, the participants will be focusing on implementing six key controls outlined by the Center for Internet Security:

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Mayors Reveal Visions and Goals for New Fiscal Year

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

As we approach the start of a new fiscal year for many local governments, we’ve been able to catch a glimpse of the visions and goals for the upcoming year through State of the City addresses that highlight a city’s budget, goals and key issues. The importance of understanding these issues is the first step towards creating lasting relationships with local municipalities.

The National League of Cities has just released their 2019 State of the Cities Report  which analyzes the content of 153 of those State of the City speeches from around the country from cities of all sizes. Here are the top ten issues:

  1. Economic Development
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Health & Human Services
  4. Budgets & Management
  5. Energy & Environment
  6. Housing
  7. Public Safety
  8. Demographics
  9. Education
  10. Government Data & Technology

Most of the issues are not specifically technology related, however, that doesn’t mean that technology isn’t a vital component. Understanding the issues and what activities a city is planning to undertake to address them can give you insight into areas of opportunity. Read more of this post

Collaboration in Times of Consolidation: Hot Topic for State CIOs

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

NASCIO’s 2019 Midyear Conference last week brought together CIOs from 45 states and three territories and provided a multitude of opportunities to network with CIOs and state representatives, including 16 new CIOs from last year’s election cycle.

The overwhelming trend this year was collaboration, both internal to state governments and externally to their partners and constituents. Collaboration will be a key piece of the CIO’s arsenal as more and more states look toward consolidating and centralizing IT infrastructure.

Consolidation brings many benefits – from cost savings and improved management to better network visibility. By consolidating networks and infrastructure into a centrally managed data center or cloud environment, the CIO and staff will have more time to work on unique applications and delivering outcomes for their agencies. However, getting state entities to commit to and actively participate in a consolidation effort takes more than just the promise of cost savings.

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