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04/22/2020
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WorkScoop

State IT shops brace for budget cuts

As governors evaluate when to begin reopening their states’ economies, technology leaders anticipate a new paradigm in which their services are valued more highly, but reduced budgets allow them to pursue fewer projects. “IT has never been so important when you think of this kind of crisis,” Colorado CIO Theresa Szczurek said. “It’s been an opportunity to really rise to the occasion and do what’s needed to be done on behalf of Coloradans.” But while Colorado Gov. Jared Polis plans to start easing his stay-at-home order next week, most businesses are expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, further denting the state's projected revenue. "We are likely to see lower budgets because of the likelihood of a recession," Szczurek said. Colin Wood reports.


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Digital transformation could be another casualty

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended how government works, forcing a sudden shift to widespread telework, an unprecedented demand on public-benefit programs like unemployment insurance and an almost universal cessation of in-person services due to social-distancing measures. While this quick and radical overhaul of how government works may seem like an opportunity to accelerate projects, its more likely to present IT officials with a host of new cybersecurity challenges, as government workers log in on unvetted devices and unsecured home Wi-Fi networks. And even when it's safe to go back to the office, the budget cuts that Szczurek and other CIOs predict may set back IT modernization plans for years. "States are going to have to slow down things to a degree," said NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson. Benjamin Freed explains.


Mainframes are not leaving state government anytime soon

On a new episode of StateScoop's "Priorities" podcast, Montana Chief Information Officer Tim Bottenfield explains how his state is preparing its mainframe, which he says had become “a dumping ground for data,” to be decommissioned next year. But even though Montana is preparing to rid itself of the old, clunky hardware, other states — even other small ones — are sticking by theirs. The podcast is part of a StateScoop and EdScoop report on digital transformation. Listen to the podcast.


Rural America is in 'desperate need' of broadband infrastructure

On a webinar yesterday hosted by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., federal and local officials talked about how rural areas need broadband investments that go well beyond the distribution of computers and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, especially as families are asked to work and learn remotely during a public health crisis. “Actually the best service ... if we can work toward that, is fiber broadband to the home,” said Nil Grove, the chief technology officer for the public schools in Allegheny County, Maryland. Both Grove and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggested expanding the federal E-Rate program, a broadband subsidy that supports schools and libraries, to helps rural students and workers get internet access at home. Ryan Johnston reports.


NASS conference is canceled

The National Association of Secretaries of State announced yesterday that it is canceling its annual conference because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The conference, which was scheduled to take place July 19 to 22 in Reno, Nevada, is the latest gathering of government officials to be called off due to the public health crisis. NASS said it is exploring the possibility of running a series of virtual workshops and committee meetings for its members, especially as states try to figure out how to hold elections amid the coronavirus outbreak. Ben has more.


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