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08/18/2021
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Five months after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law, state and local governments’ plans for how to use $350 billion in relief funding are starting to take shape. Inside IT agencies, many officials are finding themselves newly flush with cash. “It’s pretty exciting, actually,” New Hampshire CIO Denis Goulet said of his department’s $30 million slice of the roughly $1 billion the state is eligible to receive. But Goulet also said he and his colleagues are being measured about how to use the money. "What we’re trying to do is be careful and smart, not to have it be one of these situations where you say, ‘I’ve got the money, so I’m going to use it without driving strategic advantage.'” Benjamin Freed reports.


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Is the gap really closing?

Much of the $350 billion states are getting has already been committed toward major broadband expansion and digital equity projects, raising hopes that they’re closer than ever to closing their digital divides. But the work is still far from over, as broadband agencies still lack for accurate data of where they need to create new connections. And that'll make choosing projects tricky. “We don’t want to, I don’t want to say kill projects, but the goal is to try to make sure that there’s no state money going into an area where there’s already service or where there’s already other state funding or federal funding continues," said Tamarah Holmes, Virginia's broadband director. Ryan Johnston has more.


Officials still wary of blockchain sandboxes

Local officials in Nevada say they still oppose the idea of technology company-owned communities, despite the launch of a new legislative committee tasked with studying their potential. At a meeting last week, officials in Storey County, about 430 miles northwest of Las Vegas, told lawmakers and representatives from Blockchains LLC — a tech firm founded by Jeffrey Berns, who owns 67,000 acres in the county — that the concept of innovation zones is “not necessary and not appropriate” as they’re currently being proposed. Berns had proposed that companies like his buy large portions of land and assume governance of any communities developed on it, an idea that was supported by Gov. Steve Sisolak. Ryan has the story.


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Network modernization strategies to support modern applications

The growing demand to digitize citizen-facing services risks overwhelming agency networks, especially in rural offices that may not have reliable access to their agencies’ wide-area network. But the good news is that networks have changed greatly over the past three years, and agencies — with the help of acquisitions contracts like EIS — have access to alternatives to network access, such as satellite, broadband and cellular, says IT executive James Clevenger. Hear more from Clevenger.


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