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Year in Review 2021: Settling In to the Next Phase

While 2021 still felt the impacts of COVID-19, government IT agencies began the transition to a more hybrid future — modernizing systems, navigating cybersecurity and preparing for whatever is next.

small black silhouette against a big open door
This was supposed to be the year when everything went back to normal. 2021 did see vaccines approved and administered to millions of Americans. At press time, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children aged 5 to 11, which was welcome news to many. But vaccine hesitancy remains and reluctance seems greater for parents of children in this age group. Variants like delta and omicron also threw a wrench in plans to put COVID-19 behind us. But with a majority of Americans fully vaccinated, most pre-pandemic activities have resumed, though they might look a little different.

In-person events have started to make their way back onto organizational calendars, seen as a welcome chance to connect with colleagues in person. And many in government have made their way back to physical offices too, though there are signs that public-sector leaders largely realize that remote work options must remain. Staying agile, flexible and resilient has never been more important, and government has proven it is capable of doing all three.

As we reported last year and this year on and in these pages, digital services have exploded in government during the pandemic as agencies strove to maintain and improve service offerings for citizens that didn’t require physical contact. Alongside that push has been major momentum behind single sign-on efforts to simplify access to the growing number of online offerings. Below, we examine how 2021 has changed the work of state and local government IT.

— Noelle Knell, Editor