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Celebrating Gov Tech Accomplishments in a Most Unusual Year

COVID-19. Remote work. Elections. Social justice. State and local government technology leaders should be proud of all that they accomplished amid this year of unprecedented challenges.

by Teri Takai and Phil Bertolini / December 21, 2020

Hooray, 2020 is coming to a close! This year has definitely been the strangest in recent history, with the world battling the pandemic, an election that had many twists and turns, and a renewed push for social justice across the nation. While these major issues raged on, technology leaders in government pivoted to meet the challenges, from remote work to providing vital services to citizens in a remote, quarantined way. All of these actions were taken to make sure that employees and citizens stayed healthy and safe. No one could have ever predicted the year that was 2020. In reality, no one would believe a fictional story that had half of what took place this year written on its pages. We want to take this opportunity to look back and commend you all for what you accomplished.

You and your teams are all-stars for what you were able to do to keep government moving forward for the last 10 months of 2020. The pandemic is by no means over, but your efforts allowed government to continue to deliver services to the people that needed you most. Government can be a “what have you done for me lately” world, which is very unforgiving at times. It can also be the most rewarding experience of your lives as you help people remain safe, healthy and happy. Some of your accomplishments really stood out to us this year.

The first is how governments were pushed to work remotely at the drop of a hat. Governments found new ways of managing remotely with technologies that, at times, were Band-Aided together. Technologies that have been aging over time were stretched to their limits. In keeping government running, you made technology even more important to your leadership and your community. You extended your technologies to a workforce that was working from their living rooms, trying to keep the cat off their keyboard. It got done and the successes are real. 

The second is how a major election was looming near the end of the year and you kept the votes, the people, and the technologies secure. There was a need to provide social distancing in physical voting locations while managing the technologies to handle an unprecedented mail-in vote. The crunch of work that needed to be accomplished was hanging in the air on election day. You got it done and ensured the process was secure. The people needed to trust that the process was well-managed, and they got their wish.

The third is responding to the call for social justice that spread across the nation. In many parts of the country, people took to the streets to voice their concerns over what was happening in their communities. Government's response was massive and often required technology to support it. Again, you made it happen and worked tirelessly to ensure needed technologies were available and secure. Technologies that would impact people’s lives were front and center. Social issues have never been easy to manage for governments, but your work made it that much more possible. 

The fourth and final accomplishment is the way you all performed so amazingly during the largest public health crisis in modern times. The COVID-19 pandemic raged across the country, requiring coordinated responses from public health professionals and government leaders that, again, were supported by technology. Data became worth its weight in gold as the virus spread, health care became stressed to a breaking point, and communities did everything in their power to stop the spread. You stood up massive databases that served as the foundation of a measured response. You provided communication platforms that citizens relied on to access information and calm their fears. You created management systems that helped steer much-needed financial resources to those most in need. You implemented technologies quickly that are still in place today and will be in place for the foreseeable future. You are the backbone of a massive response that may never be equaled again in our lifetime.

We were honored this year to bring government technology leaders together in numerous virtual events to share best practices that will be a benefit to all. We included our private-sector partners that wanted to be in the discussions to help governments solve problems. Our events have been live for so many years that when forced to go virtual we weren’t sure what the interactions would be like. We quickly found that you were ready to have tough discussions and go deep on many topics. You did all of this while battling the crazy year of 2020. We could probably equate this to the plate-spinning acrobat who kept every plate spinning by moving from stick to stick as the plates began to wobble. Your plates may have wobbled but you kept them in the air spinning and, by the way, worked with us to have much needed conversations. Well done! 

We are reminded of an excellent quote by the Danish Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 2020 was a crazy year, but just think about all the amazing things you learned as you spun your plates. Having been “in the arena” in our careers, we understand the stress that you have been under and the sacrifices you have made to get the job done. We value your contributions but, even more, we value your friendship. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2021.

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