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

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

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