A resource guide for state and local IT leaders during the COVID-19 recovery and beyond.
Government IT organizations are entering the next normal for their operations. As the nation transitions from the immediate coronavirus response to what comes next, state and local IT leaders face complex questions about how and where their organizations will work; how to realign IT priorities to match post-COVID realities; and how to adjust longer-term strategic planning to support evolving leadership priorities.
The Center for Digital Government is developing this resource guide in collaboration with state and local IT leaders who participate in our Digital States Performance Institute and Digital Communities initiatives. Our intent is to provide insights and practical advice to IT leaders throughout the nation as they navigate the complex terrain of recovery.
We believe the process of restarting next-normal operations can logically be divided into three phases, falling roughly into 30-, 60- and 90-day increments. The first phase -- which involves resetting the IT organization, reviewing IT decisions made during the COVID crisis and confronting immediate IT needs -- is posted here in its entirety. The next phases are posted in outline form and will be expanded over the coming weeks.
We consider this resource guide a living document, and it will be updated continuously with new content and features -- including video chats with state and local IT leaders to share their insights and challenges -- as we undertake this process together.
IT leaders will face important employee, facilities and technology issues in the first 30 days of next-normal operations. Decisions made during this time will be critical to ensure a successful emergence from the crisis.
Reset the IT Organization
The COVID-19 crisis continues to have a significant impact on government employees or better said, your people. In the interest of public health, these individuals were forced into a telework environment with little or no notice and in some cases have been furloughed from their positions as the pandemic impacted the economy.
The return to ‘normal’ operations will likely happen in phases but what does that mean?
These are all tough questions that will require action.
Social distancing is the primary factor in reducing and containing the spread of COVID-19. Government technology leaders must create a hybrid model that accommodates social distancing. But questions remain:
Leaders should consider:
Numerous decisions were made during the crisis that impacted every aspect of every function. The decisions to push everyone to telework were made hastily and there may be residual impacts that will need to be addressed.
Policies structured for the old normal must be reviewed to ensure a consistent framework. Leaders should:
The ‘return to work’ will have major organization, people and policy issues that need to be addressed. The phased approach requires leaders to examination each of these issues to provide clear direction to employees both in terms of returning but also how the organization will function as the entire workforce returns. In addressing these changes, the underlying principles will be to ensure the health and safety of employees in uncertain times.
Review Technology Decisions
Post-COVID-19 technology decisions will require an accurate assessment of the pre-COVID-19 technology plans. Government leadership will need to reprioritize functions based on the next-normal needs for services.
Reprioritizing technology decisions will require:
The COVID-19 crisis created an urgent need for telework equipment, capacity and access.
The need for technology post-crisis poses some tough questions:
To ensure they can provide a flexible workplace, leaders should:
The technological environment for remote workers must be safe as well as efficient. Quickly pushing large quantities of employees into telework has stressed legacy cybersecurity controls and potentially created new vulnerabilities.
COVID-19 has created an environment where cybercriminals are attempting to exploit remote workers and their organizations. Leaders should:
The information technology organizations were the silent heroes as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded -- working against the clock to ensure that vital citizen services could continue. They were there to look for innovative ways to serve employees and citizens. But some decisions were made quickly and now require review for long-term implications. In some cases, the next normal will become the standard work environment in the future, and policies and plans need to reflect that. The good news is that the technology was vital. Leveraging the key actions for the future is essential.
The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact government’s human and technology resources. The need to work remotely also stretched government agencies’ ability to keep a detailed track of assets, both physical and virtual.
Managing technological assets impacts several government processes:
The initial impact of the crisis is that many government employees were required to take their on-premises equipment home to continue working remotely. Government leaders should:
Government procurement is always a germane issue after a crisis. Government leaders should:
Government must prepare to reopen their operations as the COVID-19 crisis passes. Looking at the issue in a multi-step plan ensures that an orderly, sequential process is undertaken. Now that government has recognized technology is the backbone of ongoing operations, they must provide the funding, people, and processes to ensure availability for the future.
Review pre-crisis IT priorities
Establish IT priorities for infrastructure and cybersecurity
Establish IT priorities with agencies and departments
Strengthen Relationships with Executive Leadership
IT Strategic/Master Plan changes
IT Budgetary changes
IT Internal resource changes
IT Contract changes
IT Partner changes
We would like to thank the sponsors of the Digital States Performance Institute and the Digital Communities Program for their support.
This content is made possible by our sponsors; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of e.Republic’s editorial staff.