What issues had the biggest influence on government's technology use in 2008? That's a broad question and a tough one to answer. I'll take a crack at it, anyway. The following list is subjective, but it's based on topics that drove our coverage throughout the year, and it's shaped by what we heard from readers at events across the country. These particular issues are significant because each drove multiple IT-related activities this year -- and they'll continue to do so in 2009.

Before we reach the main course, though, I'll add a few caveats. My list could easily include data security and mobile applications. I chose to leave them off. Security is a bottom-line concern that's crucial any year; therefore, it didn't shape 2008 any more than last year. Mobility's growing like wildfire, but it's narrower than the topics below.

So, here are three issues that made the cut:

The Economic Meltdown

Let's take care of the bad news first. Budgets for many states and localities were bad throughout 2008 -- and they were poised to worsen as the year ended. Individual and corporate tax revenues were an early casualty of the slowing U.S. economy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which tracks state budget issues. October's stock market nosedive will push revenue collection lower still, the group said.

"This situation is as bad as I've ever seen it," said NCSL Executive Director Bill Pound, in a mid-October statement. "States have been confronted with bad economic circumstances in the past, but not so many and not all at once. State budgets have a very rough road ahead."

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