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Digital Counties Survey 2021 - Winners Announced

2021 Digital Counties Survey Recognizes Leaders with Creative Governance, Data-driven Strategies, Digital Equity Initiatives, and Enhanced Cybersecurity; and Announces the 2021 Future Ready Award Winner

July 15, 2021 – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) have announced the winners of the 19th annual Digital Counties Survey. The survey, conducted by CDG in partnership with NACo, identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services; encourage open data, collaboration, and shared services; enhance cybersecurity; and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts.

“Top-notch counties are utilizing the governance frameworks, investment tools, broadband implementations and more that were put in place in response to citizen needs around COVID-19…then capitalizing on those going forward to support digital experience initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, vice-president, CDG. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their accomplishments and continuing efforts to use technology to make government better.”

“The coronavirus pandemic underscored the urgent need for bold, cutting-edge approaches to serving our residents, and technology has played a major role,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “This year’s Digital Counties Survey winners have demonstrated true leadership when it was needed the most. We applaud their innovation and expertise in leveraging technology to achieve county goals.”
This year’s first-place winners include:
  • King County, Wash. (1,000,000 or more population category)
King County implemented an IT investment management tool to make assessments at completion, allowing evaluation over time. Their emerging technologies development framework supports funding technology on a continual basis. In addition, the Integrated Health Data Hub integrates data from Medicaid, Behavioral Health, and Homelessness support systems using identity-matching algorithms that provide a wholistic view of clients and allows better support of their needs.

  • Prince George’s County, Md. (500,000 – 999,999 population category)
Prince George’s County has a best practices-level comprehensive cyber strategy and management. Last year a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Security Analyst were brought on board. A virtual Security Operations Center and a risk-management tool “Security ScoreCard” were implemented across 27 local jurisdictions. The impact of phishing and ransomware attempts was reduced by 90 percent.

  • Marin County, Calif. (250,000-499,999 population category)
Marin County adapted IT Governance to circumstances in the chaotic onset of the pandemic. County departments formed a collaboration, the Marin County Data (“MCData”) Committee, to develop data-driven strategies and programs which link the performance measurement program and departmental needs. Both data governance and open data were connected to data-driven decisions which improved transparency as well.

  • Cabarrus County, N.C. (150,000-249,999 population category)
Strategic planning and priority alignment of technology resources from the start of the COVID-19 crisis allowed Cabarrus County to respond quickly. This alignment continues to benefit the county. They also added a county innovations manager position whose work is aligned with IT as well as the Board of Commissioners, stakeholders, and department leaders.
  • Albemarle County, Va. (up to 150,000 population category)
Last year during the pandemic the county laid more fiber broadband than ever, opened free Wi-Fi locations, and worked with partners across the region to advance broadband. The County also used CARES funding to complete three other broadband projects last fall. In March they received an award for a broadband grant of 2.2 million dollars!

FUTURE READY AWARD 2021: The Future Ready Awards were created to recognize the innovative vision that states, cities, and counties have for the impact of technology on the people they serve – specifically those jurisdictions that are laying the foundation for the disruptive and converging forces that are shaping an uncertain future.
  • CDG presents the 2021 Future Ready Award to Hennepin County, MN. The county established a Disparity Reduction program using technology to reduce the digital divide for students and residents. Staff retention and longevity are encouraged by allowing IT staff to split their time equally between their current job and learning new skills. In addition, the county IT’s process of developing trend waves for emerging technologies allows them to better understand the dynamics and use of new technology.

The Center for Digital Government thanks our corporate members Accela, Amazon Web Services, CAI, Crown Castle, Dell Technologies, EasyVote, Infor, Laserfiche, Medallia, Microsoft, Oracle, Pure Storage, ServiceNow, SHI, Spectrum Enterprise, Splunk, TeamDynamix, Whyline, and Yubico for their support to make this survey and awards program possible.

Congratulations to the 2021 Digital Counties Survey Winners!
1,000,000 or more Population Category
1st King County, WA
2nd County of Los Angeles, CA
3rd Hennepin County, MN
4th Orange County, FL
5th Fairfax County, VA
6th Montgomery County, MD
7th Oakland County, MI
8th County of Alameda, CA
9th Cook County, IL
9th Miami-Dade County, FL
10th County of San Bernardino, CA

500,000-999,999 Population Category
1st Prince George's County, MD
2nd DeKalb County, GA
3rd Snohomish County, WA
4th San Joaquin County, CA
5th County of San Mateo, CA
6th County of Sonoma, CA
7th New Castle County, DE
8th Gwinnett County, GA
9th Polk County, FL
10th Cobb County, GA

250,000-499,999 Population Category
1st Marin County, CA
2nd Chesterfield County, VA
3rd Prince William County, VA
4th County of Placer, CA
5th Cumberland County, NC
6th Dutchess County, NY
7th Leon County, FL
8th Durham County, NC
9th Ottawa County, MI
10th County of Berks, PA

150,000-249,999 Population Category
1st Cabarrus County, NC
2nd Arlington County, VA
3rd Columbia County, GA
4th Washington County, AR
5th Pitt County, NC
6th Onslow County, NC
7th Davidson County, NC
8th Berrien County, MI
9th Charlotte County, FL
10th Berkeley County, SC
10th Union County, NC

Up to 150,000 Population Category
1st Albemarle County, VA
2nd County of Mono, CA
3rd Roanoke County, VA
4th Montgomery County, VA
5th County of Nevada, CA
6th Dodge County, WI
7th County of York, VA
8th Coconino County, AZ
9th Bedford County, VA
10th Franklin County, VA


2021 Top Ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

1. Cybersecurity
2. Citizen/Customer Engagement/Experience
3. Business Process Automation
4. Networks: Broadband, Connectivity, Addressing Digital Divide
5. Cloud Computing
6. Business Intelligence/Analytics
7. Hire/Retain/Nurture Competent IT Personnel
8. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
9. Budget and Cost Control
10. Data Governance: Transparency, Open Data

CLICK HERE for the article on the top 10 winners who are being honored at a special virtual awards event on July 15.

About the Center for Digital Government: The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focused on technology policy and best practices in state and local government. CDG is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

About NACO: The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s counties, including nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking; promote exemplary county policies and practices; nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks; optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings; and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.


Paul Guequierre, Director of Communications
National Association of Counties
(202) 942-4271

Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards
e.Republic | Center for Digital Government