In a series of private meetings with federal agencies, state CIOs aim to clarify regulations on a gamut of IT challenges.
The Hall of the States offices in Washington, D.C. (State Services Organization)
State technology leaders from across the U.S. are gathering with federal officials to talk about elections, tax data, cybersecurity, FirstNet and a host of other pressing issues as part of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' annual Washington, D.C., Fly-In on Wednesday.
The one-day annual event, which began in 2001, is an attempt to offer state CIOs and IT leadership a chance for collaboration and instruction with policy experts, agency heads and congressmen about programs and issues affecting state operations. Doug Robinson, NASCIO’s executive director, said content and discussion topics vary by year depending on feedback from CIOs, but this year the topics include best practices for handling sensitive federal tax data, how to protect election information from potential manipulation from outside parties (a likely nod to findings of Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 election) and a diverse range of other cybersecurity risks.
Robinson said a few participating organizations at the federal level include the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service. Meeting at the Hall of States, offices held by the Washington-based State Services Organization, the agencies will deliver a series of briefings before giving way to question-and-answer sessions.
“It's about interaction, it's building those relationships,” Robinson said. “But for our CIOs it's just really getting direct information in a closed environment where they can feel comfortable about asking the hard questions and gather lots of good feedback.”
A primary interest of the group, Robinson said, is the technical interpretation of IRS 1075, a publication noting the strict regulations associated with federal tax data management. Failure to meet the federal government’s litany of instructions results in legal liabilities and possible criminal penalties. The added risk of noncompliance is one factor driving states to seek out specific interpretations and implement a suite of protocols dealing with proper encryption, access control, cryptography, email management, storage, reporting and disposal methods.
A expert from the IRS Safeguards Program, a federal outfit tasked specifically with review and inspection of the stringent regulations, will brief CIOs on some of this minutiae.
The announcement of new contract arrangements surrounding FirstNet will be another big piece of information gleaned from the day, Robinson said. In March, FirstNet announced it had partnered with AT&T to build the $46.5 billion wireless communications network and the sizable contracts stemming from this initiative will present technology leaders with connectivity opportunities and decisions as states decide either to opt in or out of the network. Throughout the course of the 25-year agreement with AT&T, FirstNet estimated the project will generate about 10,000 new jobs.
“FirstNet is a major deal for the states and so we're going to hear from the CEO and our state government representative on the FirstNet board of what the future is going to look like,” Robinson said.
Correction: This article has been updated to note that NASCIO's D.C. Fly in began in 2001 instead of 2013.