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05/22/2020
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Counties plan more IT spending even as budgets bleed

County officials from around the United States said Thursday that technology purchases helping their governments function remotely remain one of the most pressing investments, even as they stare into an abyss of depleted revenues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve had to increase bandwidth and computers to send people working from home,” Tim Bubb, a commissioner in Licking County, Ohio, said during a phone briefing hosted by the National Association of Counties. “We’re being productive, but there’s additional cost of working from home.” Meanwhile, state and local governments are begging the federal government for another round of aid to help them stave off budget cuts and layoffs. “Technology is an investment we have to make at this time,” said Penny Postoak Ferguson, the manager of Johnson County, Kansas. Benjamin Freed reports.


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'Speed is expected' in government's post-coronavirus IT projects

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the boundaries of remote communication and project management for government agencies around the country. But some stakeholders say the virus has permanently proved the “normal way” of administering long-term IT projects is obsolete. During a webinar, Kevin Jones, chief information officer of the Indiana Department of Child Services, said COVID-19 has helped him prove that IT projects can be done quickly, remotely and efficiently. One quick project Jones' agency worked out was a tracking system that ensures masks and other supplies were distributed evenly among the field staff throughout all of the state’s 92 counties, so caseworkers can continue making essential home visits, which Jones called a "life-saving solution." Ryan Johnston reports.


Washington state says unemployment system lost 'millions of dollars' to fraud

Scammers collected “hundreds of millions” of dollars in unemployment benefits from Washington state during the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the state’s unemployment assistance agency said Thursday. Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the Washington Employment Security Department, said during a news conference that the scheme could mean that the state’s residents who have filed lawful claims for financial assistance could face even longer waits for their benefits to begin arriving. While officials said they've put in "countermeasures" to stop further phony payments from going out, early evidence suggests Washington was the biggest target of a sophisticated, Nigeria-based scheme targeting the unemployment systems in at least seven states. Ben has more.


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