SLED 101 Series – Technology Solves Problems

By Rachel Eckert, SLED market intelligence manager

In our last installment we walked through the IT budget process to help you focus your sales efforts more strategically and develop more targeted account lists.

This, our fourth installment, will dive into what technologies states and localities will be buying with their IT budgets and how vitally important the role of citizen is to driving adoption.

Despite some uncertainty in IT spending, state, local and education organizations are still looking for technology solutions. The ongoing pandemic caused major shifts, not only to working environments, but in how SLED organizations provided citizen services. With an inability to provide in-person services, SLED organizations needed to rapidly deploy digital and online services, forcing many states to re-evaluate their IT suites.

Cybersecurity is a constant

Even during a time rapid changes, there is still one constant when it comes to states, counties and cities — cybersecurity. With the rise in ransomware attacks over the last several years, several states have made the shift to a “whole-of-state” approach, which I wrote about in a recent blog. This means the state and all of the jurisdictions in the state work together to develop a plan for a coordinated response during an incident.

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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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Top Four 2021 State CIO Priorities

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

The release of the Top Ten Priorities for State CIOs in 2021 in December by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), places digital government at the top of the list for the second year in a row. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of certain technologies by government as they look to provide quicker and more efficient services to citizens and employees.

Looking at the year ahead, state governments recognize that they will continue to need technology solutions that support digital modernization for applications that enable remote workforce accessibility and online interactions with citizens. Here are the top four technology priorities that CIOs are looking for:

(1) Cloud Solutions

With the migration of traditional in-person services online, cloud technologies are crucial to deliver services en masse. Cloud solutions allow agencies to operate more efficiently, delivering services to a larger number of citizens. However, agencies will need vendor assistance to help them through the migration process so that services are migrated seamlessly, with no loss in uptime.

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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

Artificial Intelligence Aids in Delivering State and Local Services

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

Last year a joint survey by NASCIO and the Center for Digital Government surveyed state government leaders about the promise and potential of artificial intelligence. When the survey was released, artificial intelligence (AI) was just starting to gain traction in state governments. Being forced to deliver vital citizen services in the current environment has led to a massive adoption of AI, and has allowed states to respond more quickly to requests while gaining operational efficiencies.

According to a recent report by the Center for Digital Government, early adoption has been primarily within health and human services agencies because of the increased demand for online services, and in recent months for unemployment insurance.

Other areas that are experimenting with AI include the departments of transportation, which are looking at it for traffic management. There are also plans for public safety agencies to use image recognition to help identify license plates and workforce development agencies to use robotic process automation to help them shorten their response time to citizens.

Here are three drivers behind AI adoption: 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

Back to School or Not? Options Abound

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

With the expected return of students back to school in the fall, most counties are trying to figure out the best way to facilitate a safe and orderly process.

School systems are facing many challenges right now — the first being how to keep social distancing. Secondly, they will need to manage remote learning environments — and find a way to pay for new technologies that are required to support them.

Lots of decisions still need to be made and school systems are using all available resources to resolve outstanding issues — and they are reaching out to parents for their input.  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

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