The State of Maryland will be receiving a “software update,” Gov. Wes Moore announced during a press conference Monday.
Moore and his IT secretary, Katie Savage, announced four new technology initiatives, including a statewide executive order on artificial intelligence, a new digital services team, a digital accessibility policy and a cybersecurity partnership with the Maryland Army National Guard. Through these initiatives, Moore said, the state is aiming to integrate AI ethically into state government work, bolster cyberdefense and improve residents’ access to state resources, particularly for those with disabilities.
“There is a harsh truth: the world is moving fast, and if we don’t keep up we’re going to fall behind,” Moore said during the press conference. “I think about it this way: My iPhone asks me to update it like every eight weeks. But we have not updated the way that government works in the past eight years. How can we win the next decade if the tools that we have to win the decade are the tools from last decade?”
Savage said Maryland’s AI executive order is the beginning of the state’s journey with the technology. She also said it’s important to use AI responsibly, productively and cohesively across all of Maryland’s agencies.
On AI, Moore said: “I do want to address the elephant in the room for so many Marylanders. For many people in our state, the words AI and cyber, it makes some people scared. Here’s the thing: This technology is already here. The only question is whether we are going to be reactive or proactive. … We will not wait for technology to evolve only to find ourselves flat-footed against the challenges of tomorrow. We will take action and we will take action together.”
Savage said that the executive order commits the state to a variety of actions, including identifying use cases and potential pilots for the technology while studying the intersection of AI, workforce development and cybersecurity efforts — she said this is so the state can “learn and iterate.”
Maryland has much of the right talent to drive the modernization efforts across state government, Savage said, helped by the addition of a digital services team, which will support the budget for “major” IT development. She said that the state government is missing “user experience designers, product managers, data scientists [and] engineers,” and is looking to bring in talent for extra support.
She said creating the digital services team and the accessibility policy in concert was “intentional.”
“The Maryland digital accessibility policy will ensure that all Marylanders have equal access to digital services and content regardless of their abilities,” Savage said. “Technology can only be productive if it is accessible.”
In pursuit of fostering a government approach to enhance the state’s cybersecurity and to support local government’s cybersecurity development, Savage and Moore announced the Maryland Cybersecurity Task Force. They said the task force will work with the state’s Department of Emergency Management and Maryland’s military department to encourage the development of cybersecurity talent.
Savage said the state will add personnel to the National Guard and work with the unit to “focus on system monitoring, incident response and vulnerability remediation.”