IT Forecast: Is the Recovery Complete?

State and local IT offices are poised to deliver streamlined infrastructure and improved security.

by / March 14, 2016
Panelists at Beyond the Beltway from left to right: Teri Green, senior administrator and state Medicaid agent for the Wyoming Department of Health; San Francisco CIO Miguel Gamiño; Missouri CISO Michael Roling; Randy Cole, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission; Indiana CIO Dewand Neely; Randell Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa County, Calif., Transportation Authority; Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt; and Bill Schrier, CIO of the Seattle Police Department. e.Republic/David Kidd

McLEAN, Va. — IT leaders in state and local government convened with a crowd of technology industry partners in Virginia this week for a look at what 2016 holds for the marketplace. E.Republic Inc.’s* annual Beyond the Beltway event identifies projected spending in various verticals, and the news across the board is positive.

State governments are expected to spend $47.4 billion this year, the sixth year in a row in which IT spending will increase. According to recent Center for Digital Government* surveys, cybersecurity, shared services, cloud computing and staffing are priorities for states. Local governments are predicted to spend even more money — $52.3 billion, a figure demonstrating that local budgets have now reached pre-recession levels. Cybersecurity, open and transparent government, mobility, and staffing represent the top four priorities for local governments.

SECURITY: JOB ONE

The importance of cybersecurity across jurisdictions was evidenced by the panelists assembled. Indiana CIO Dewand Neely is working on securing funding for cyberhygiene and awareness efforts.

“You can put the big fence up all around the neighborhood, but if your users are just going to hand away the key, it’s not going to do any good for you,” he said.

Missouri CISO Michael Roling weighed in on the potential — good and bad — that the Internet of Things (IoT) represents. “I view it [IoT] as an opportunity but also a tremendous challenge.”

Reporting on the state of cybersecurity funding in Missouri, Roling said the outlook is positive. So positive, in fact, that he’s aiming to offer around-the-clock instant response capabilities.

STAFFING UP

The oft-cited government staffing crisis was highlighted with the following stat: 1 in 4 government employees were eligible for retirement as of September 2015. Many Beyond the Beltway panelists referenced specific strategies for bringing on more technology expertise. To compete for top talent with Silicon Valley tech giants located in his backyard, San Francisco CIO Miguel Gamiño announced that the city has hired a dedicated tech recruiter. He also mentioned the recent addition of a full-time chief information security officer to the city’s payroll — a stand-alone role not often found in local government.

In Illinois, CIO Hardik Bhatt discussed plans to hire a chief data officer for the state, while Indiana’s Neely said he’s making the case in his state for a chief privacy officer with the authority that comes with a direct line to the governor.

INFRASTRUCTURE REIMAGINED

On the heels of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s January announcement that the state would undergo a massive consolidation effort to overhaul IT, CIO Hardik Bhatt outlined “Creativity Within Constraints,” a plan to streamline technology systems and realize efficiencies in a state now entering its ninth month without a budget. The detailed plan, described as “pre-decisional,” will aim to hit 75-day milestones, a benchmark deemed doable given that it mirrors the period of time between a November presidential election and the following January’s inauguration. “We are trying to run IT like a business going forward,” Bhatt said, using high-value, customer-centric technology.

Local government has its eye on infrastructure too, as both Baltimore CIO Jerome Mullen and San Francisco’s Gamiño underscored the foundational nature of broadband connectivity.

“The broadband conversation is huge,” Mullen said, pointing to the city’s recent appointment of a broadband coordinator, as well as a 50-mile fiber ring project, 20 miles of which were funded by the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

"Sound infrastructure can never be disrupted," said San Francisco's Gamiño, "and in our era, that infrastructure is connectivity.”

*Editor’s Note: e.Republic Inc. is the parent company of both the Center for Digital Government, referenced in this story, and Government Technology.

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.