If President Barack Obama's first 100 days prove anything, it may be that his administration's collaborative style is building support -- or at least buying some time -- in the state IT community.
Obama's economic stimulus package is pumping billions of dollars into state and local economies, but it also comes with aggressive requirements for providing transparency into how those dollars are spent -- and the task of meeting those requirements is falling, by and large, into the laps of CIOs. Governors will sign off on the veracity of stimulus spending reports that are sent to the federal government, but CIOs will build the systems and processes that track those dollars and deliver spending data to citizens and policymakers.
It's a job that comes with a rapidly approaching deadline and -- as of May 1 -- very little information on how to meet it. Although billions of dollars are already flowing into state programs, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) still hadn't issued guidelines telling states what spending data they should track and how they should track it.
Speaking to state CIOs in late April, Dave Quam, director of the Office of Federal Relations for the National Governors Association, summed up the situation pretty well:
"We are in day 74 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- one of the largest spending bills of all time -- and we don't have all the rules," he said, during the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) midyear conference. "The thing to have fixed in your mind right now is Oct. 10. That is the deadline for states to report back to the federal government on how all of this money got used. That's new for government. You haven't done this before, and it's going to be a challenge."
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