May 8, 2010    /    by

NASCIO Midyear Conference Recap

The National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) Midyear Conference for 2010 was held during the last week of April in Baltimore.  The attendance was the ...

The National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) Midyear Conference for 2010 was held during the last week of April in Baltimore.  The attendance was the highest ever for a NASCIO Midyear Conference, and I was impressed with the content, speakers and overall agenda . This blog briefly covers some of the highlights from my perspective.

On Tuesday afternoon, a pre-conference session on Identity Management was held. We heard updates on ongoing activities in several states, Washington DC and federal agencies, and we discussed the upcoming draft document entitled: The National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions .  If you're looking for more information on this new national strategy, here's another article on this topic. The discussion and break-out sessions were excellent. This issue is sure to be a hot topic in coming months, so stay tuned for more updates on this pivotal aspect of digital government. (I plan to spend more time blogging on this topic later this summer.)

 The Weds afternoon members-only session began with a presentation by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra .  Here's an excerpt from the NASCIO website:

"Kundra challenged the CIOs to identify two areas where states and the federal government can collaborate on addressing challenges in information technology. Federal and state government spends billions a year annually on technology. With limited resources in federal and state government to carry out critical and non-critical services, we must work together in a state-federal IT partnership to find solutions and tools to get the maximum return on investment from information technology."

After Mr. Kundra, we heard from the Director of the US CERT, Randy Vickers. Mr. Vickers, who recently moved from "Acting Director" to become the formal US CERT Director , did a very nice job of articulating the various priorities that DHS is working on right now within the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) and within a variety of public sector and private sector committees and working groups. The importance of fusion centers , the opportunity for more state CIOs to obtain security clearances, and pilot programs on cyber security, were just a few of the topics Randy mentioned.

The opening session on Thursday morning was perhaps my favorite session. The topic was: " Perspectives from Great Leaders: Visionaries, Role Models and Innovators." The moderator was Peter Harkness, founder and publisher emeritus, Governing. The speakers were Martha Dorris, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services, US General Services Administration, Phyllis Kahn, Representative, State of Minnesota and Bill Purcell, Lecturer in Public Policy and the Director of the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Here were some interesting topics/comments that were discussed by this excellent panel:

·         Leaders understand where the organization is, where they need to go, and what the gaps are. They execute and deliver results.

·         Leaders act as a "heat shield."

·         Leaders are respected - but less fear used as a technique (than in earlier generations).

·         Leaders are on point and bring everyone home safe.

·         The debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we have ever faced.

·         Great quote: "I have friends on both sides of that issue and I'm with my friends."

·         Unhelpful techniques include concepts like "year of the child." (So next year we won't care about children?)

Other great sessions included Howard Schmidt's lunchtime keynote , new developments in wireless broadband, breakout sessions on topics like cloud computing and discussions on smart strategies with tight budgets.

Overall, I found the mid-year conference to be extremely valuable. The networking with colleagues from around the country was great, and the interaction amongst the states during the working sessions provided a unique opportunity. The federal government sent several high-level executives that clearly want to partner with the states in new and exciting ways.

The upcoming elections this fall have also focused everyone's attention in several ways. CIOs are asking what can be accomplished in the next six months that will show meaningful and lasting results. Many leaders within NASCIO are predicting that we will see many new CIOs by this time next year, so a big focus in the hallways was preparing for fall transitions and for new administrations in state capitals beginning in January. Some speakers predicted that CIO influence will also continue to rise.

If you are a state IT exec and missed the conference and/or you are thinking about the rest of 2010, I urge you to attend the NASCIO Annual Conference this fall. The investment in time and resources is well worth it. In fact, I find that I always get much more out of these NASCIO events than I put in.

If you were in Baltimore, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the NASCIO 2010 Midyear Conference.    Please leave comments below.