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NASCIO Demonstrates Public-Sector Technology Best Practices

Where can public-sector organizations go to find best practices regarding people, process and technology? How can governments successfully partner with the private sector in repeatable ways? Some of the best answers come from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

As I travel around the country and the world, I am often asked where government technology professionals and business leaders can turn to find current best practices demonstrating projects that solve hard problems. What solutions really work in an ongoing manner?

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, government executives and project leaders are constantly looking for case studies, white papers, projects and related materials that are presented with an articulated return on investment (ROI), citizen benefits, and lasting infrastructure enhancements that are repeatable across multiple jurisdictions.  

In my 30-plus-year career working within federal and state governments, as well as working with local and private-sector partners supporting the same, I believe that the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) resources (which are available for free) continue to provide the most compelling examples.

Representative Application, Award and Finalist Database Resources

Viewing the government best practices in the context of other NASCIO resources, as well as related data series from the Public Technology Institute (PTI), the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and others, provides robust and dynamic insights into current best practices as well as helps identify opportunities to transition to emerging solution management platforms. This approach offers alignment with public policy, gubernatorial and NASCIO priorities.

Some of these excellent resources include:

  • NASCIO Best Practices Annual Series — See Resource Center
  • State CIO Top Ten Priorities: Two types of priorities, Strategies, Management Processes and Solutions and Technologies, Applications Tools. — See Resource Center
  • NASCIO/Grant Thornton/CompTIA State CIO Survey Series — See Resource Center
A New Engine: Driving Innovation in State Technology, published jointly by NASCIO, Grant Thornton LLP and CompTIA, surveyed state CIOs on a range of issues, from cybersecurity and cloud migration plans to data management and the delivery of digital government services. 

Here’s an excerpt on the 2017 NASCIO summary for this document: "The nature of the state CIO role continues to evolve, with broker models becoming the norm and CIOs having to address the workforce, vendor and financial management challenges this brings," said Graeme Finley, principal with Grant Thornton's Public Sector practice. "The emergence of technologies such as the Internet of Things, drones and autonomous vehicles are also challenging the very definition of what should be considered 'IT' under the purview of the CIO."

2017 NASCIO Award Winners

The NASCIO Award press release highlighted the winners and process used this year:

Recipients were announced this evening during the NASCIO Annual Conference in Austin. This marks the 29th consecutive year NASCIO has honored outstanding information technology achievements in the public sector through the awards program. Recipients were selected by the NASCIO Awards Committee from a field of more than 100 nominees.

“It has been a great privilege to co-chair the NASCIO Awards Committee,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins. “The recipients honored tonight, as well as all nominated projects, demonstrate the integral and transformative nature information technology can have on state government and the experiences of citizens.”    

The 2017 Award Recipients are:

Cross-Boundary Collaboration and Partnerships
State of California, Virtual Integrated Mobile Office

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Risk-Based Multi-Factor Authentication

Digital Government: Government to Business 
State of Minnesota, Tempo Go Live

Digital Government: Government to Citizen 
State of Georgia, Division of Child Support Services Mobile App

Disaster Recovery/Security & Business Continuity Readiness
State of Michigan, Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps

Emerging and Innovative Technologies
State of Utah, Utah Driver License Appointment Reminder and Public Meeting Notice Reminders

Enterprise IT Management Initiatives
State of Wisconsin, Star Project, The Blueprint for Efficient State Government

Improving State Operations
Commonwealth of Michigan, Michigan Forest Inventory System

Information Communications Technology (ICT) Innovations
State of Minnesota, Minnesota Geospatial Commons

Open Government and Data, Information and Knowledge Management
State of Oregon, MAGI Medicaid System Transfer Project

State CIO Office Special Recognition    
State of Colorado, Strategy of Success: Playbook and Five-Year IT Plans

2015–2017 Award Program Participation Rate, Representatives and Accessibility

The 2017 award and finalist database, when supplemented by 2015–2016 NASCIO and related resources: (1) demonstrates a strong and effective alignment with gubernatorial and NGA policy and service priorities; (2) provides examples, documentation of the full range of engagement with CIO and NASCIO priorities; (3) illustrates and documents use of virtually all priority, best practice solutions, and discusses transitioning to emerging solutions; and (4) provides examples of solutions developed by highly mature as well as more broadly representative states, providing more accessible, adaptable best practice solutions.

Award Nominations: There were 347 nominations from 2015 to 2017, 104 in 2015, 138 in 2016 and 105 in in 2017. In 2018, this program will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the awards.

“The volume of quality submissions demonstrates the integral role information technology plays in delivering government services. Citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of the impressive innovations occurring across the country.”

Award Categories: There currently are 11 award categories, with the greatest participation in the more broadly defined and flexible eligibility categories. Two programs have narrower, more explicitly defined service and solution parameters: Cybersecurity and the related Disaster Recovery category.

Award Submissions: For 2017 the greater participation was in Government to Citizen, 18; Improving State Operations, 13; and the high profile Cross-Boundary Collaboration and Partnerships for 2015–2017 Improving State Operations had 52; Government to Citizen had  51 and Cross-Boundary Collaboration and Partnerships had 35. The others were between mid 30’s to mid 20’s. The high priority, explicitly defined Cybersecurity category had 24, and may increase in 2018 due to record setting, diverse range of disasters and disruptions in 2017.

State Representatives: While a number of states are consistently included among award recipients and finalists, due to the broad, flexible definition of categories the representatives among states is fairly broad, more than 60 percent. In 2015, when there were a larger number of finalists, 23 distinct states and the District of Columbia received ether an award or were finalists, In 2016, a high participation year, there were 21 and in 2017 with reduced participation form the prior year, it was 17. For 2015–2017 32 distinct states and D.C. had received recognition.

Award Alignment with NASCIO Priorities

One of the strongest and most relevant features of the NASCIO Recognition Awards is the scoring criteria of alignment with gubernatorial and NASCIO goals and priorities. While not always cited explicitly, some are embedded in the award categories while others are inherently a part of the issue resolution.

There are two sets of NASCIO priorities — (1) Strategies, Management Processes and Solutions and (2) Technologies, Applications and Tools.

The first is the more familiar, driving one.

“For 2017, the State CIO Top Ten shows information technology (IT) security strategies and tools are at the top of the list across the states, with security topping the list of priority strategies for the third consecutive year. Cloud services and consolidation/optimization remain at the top as second- and third-rated priorities.”

One of more of the award recipients included virtually all of the strategic priorities, with most programs having more than one. Illustrative examples, citing a leading priority for the program or project include:

Enterprise IT Governance and others

Cross-Boundary Collaboration and Partnerships: Virtual Integrated Mobile Office

Information Communications Technology (ICT) Innovations
Geospatial Commons

Security and Risk Management and others (By 2017, 95 percent of state programs have adapted a cybersecurity framework based on national standards and guidelines; 83 percent have adapted a cybersecurity plan)

Cybersecurity: Risk-Based Multi-Factor Authentication

Disaster Recovery/Security & Business Continuity Readiness: Cyber Civilian Corps

Legacy Modernization and others

Digital Government: Government to Business: Tempo Go Live

Digital Government: Government to Citizen: Division of Child Support Services Mobile App

Improving State Operations: Forest Inventory System

Data Management and Analytics and others — Emerging and Innovative Technologies: Driver License Appointment Reminder and Public Meeting Notice Reminders

Consolidation/Optimization and others

Open Government and data, Information and Knowledge : Medicaid System Transfer Project

Enterprise IT Management Initiatives: Star Project, the Blueprint for Efficient State Government (Also Legacy Modernization, Data Management and Analytics)

Enterprise Vision and Roadmap for IT - State CIO Office Special Recognition: Strategy of Success: Playbook and Five-Year IT Plans

Emerging Issues and Solutions

Some of the emerging issues and solutions are reflected in some of the Award Categories such as Emerging and Innovative Technologies, Improving State Operations, ICT Innovations and more, as well as being incorporated in the NASCIO committee and work group 2017–2018 charters and work plans.

For example: EA and G Committee Charter PY 2017 2018 20170918 APPROVED...pdf.

Issues and opportunities include:

  • Governor Awareness of IT role on the rise, e.g., NGA Future, new NGA technology-centered Office
  • A greater recognition that a formal strategy can lead to more resources, with the NGA Awards representing one component of such an approach.
  • Cybersecurity becoming a part of the fabric of government operations.
  • Continued reduction in state-owned-and-operated data centers, infrastructure and increased use of outsourcing.
  • Greater adoption of partnered new business models (Shared, managed and outsources services including Enterprise Portfolio Management (EPM), IT Service Management (ITSM) and the Managed Services Integrator.
  • Broader definition of digital government, including policy setting.
  • Accelerated engagement with workforce issues.
  • A range of emerging technologies including but not limited to IOT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, drones, autonomous vehicles.
Benefits of Participating in NASCIO State IT Recognition Award Program

The rigorous standards and consistent format, addressing basic issue, problem, solution, benefit questions, supported by a 29-year database provides unique development opportunities both to the state participants and the wider ICT community.

State Participant Benefits include:

  • Staff training and development, team building
  • State portfolio of accomplishments and best practices for decision-makers, including legislature
  • Assists in periodic performance assessments and prioritization
  • Help define state brand
  • Staff, team, program and partner recognition and collaboration opportunity
  • Applied analytic, data and performance metrics based exercise
  • Enterprise, cross-program and cross-jurisdictional development opportunity
  • Opportunity for ICT Plan update
  • Best practice and emerging solution alignment opportunity
ICT Community benefits

  • Systematic best practice inventory with associated complementary information and appropriate other state contacts
  • Identifies collaborative, cross jurisdictional opportunities, including with counties, cities and the private sector
  • Resource base for identifying transition opportunities for transition from best practices to emerging solutions
  • Aid in aligning existing state ICT, best practice and emerging solutions with state public policy issues, state gubernatorial and NASCIO priorities
Final Thoughts

I have been attending NASCIO (formerly NASIRE) meetings and workgroup discussions as a public- and private-sector professional for more than 15 years, and I always get much more out of the interactions and best practice products than I put in. The relationship building aspects are well-known benefit, but these awards and other deliverables continue to be much more.

During my years as Michigan CISO, CTO and CSO, NASCIO provided a helpful set of relationships and guidance to benchmark security and technology team progress against others. We learned from other states, along with the MS-ISAC, to both engage in cutting edge topics and showcase what we were doing to assist others.

At a time when citizen trust in government is low, when data breaches are commonplace, when overall public-sector morale is waning – NASCIO continues to be an enduring organization that brings solutions that work and are repeatable.

The 2018 NASCIO priorities will be released very soon. Given the number of recent data breaches, I expect cybersecurity to again be the top priority for state CIOs.

I urge readers to take the time to invest in a deeper understanding and commitment to excellence by engaging with the National Association of State CIOs in new ways.

You can see the NASCIO best practice summaries here for 2015, 2016 and 2017.



Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.