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What’s New in Digital Equity: Preparing the Workforce for Digital Government

Plus, the Biden-Harris administration has released a resource to accelerate infrastructure projects; California breaks ground on its middle-mile network; Results for America highlights data-driven work successes; and more.

A worker holding a tablet in a dark room lit up by computer screens looking up at a screen on the wall.
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a Workforce Planning Guide this week to support states and territories as they plan to deploy projects for high-speed Internet. The Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative is expected to create more than 150,000 high-paying jobs.

The guide is broken down into four main sections: components of a workforce plan; developing a Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) workforce plan; strategies and examples; and additional resources.

“Women are underrepresented in telecommunications jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in the announcement. “The Internet for All initiative can change this. We have an opportunity to diversify our workforce so it looks like America.”

The guide is part of NTIA’s commitment to offer technical assistance materials that entities may need to meet the workforce requirements of the BEAD program. However, in addition to this guide, NTIA will be providing additional technical assistants related to workforce requirements, including webinars and one-on-one meetings with grantees.

In other news, NTIA officially launched the Tribal Broadband Leaders Network this month with the first network meeting, which was held on Oct. 13.

“The Tribal Broadband Leaders Network will allow us to continue to hear directly from tribal leaders, while connecting those on the front lines of these efforts to ensure no one is left behind,” Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in an announcement.

This community of practitioners working to bring connectivity to tribal lands will help improve the tribal grant program by providing a channel for NTIA to receive feedback about the program. This network, which will hold monthly meetings with stakeholders, is modeled off of two other groups coordinated by NTIA — the State Broadband Leaders Network and the Digital Equity Leaders Network.

And to cap off this week’s NTIA news, Ohio received its first planning grants for deploying Internet networks and developing a digital skills training program as part of the Internet for All initiative. The funding announced totals nearly $6.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Ohio will receive $5 million for identifying and engaging with communities in unserved and underserved areas, asset mapping, local coordination with stakeholders, and capacity-building of the state’s broadband office. The additional funding of $1,470,550.76 will help fund the development of a Statewide Digital Equity Plan, the hiring of a digital equity and inclusion manager, the work of regional coalitions, and pilot programs to support underserved populations.


With significant federal funding available for infrastructure projects, the Biden-Harris administration has released a new resource to help accelerate rebuilding efforts for maximum impact from the funding. The resource, “The Biden-⁠Harris Action Plan for Accelerating Infrastructure Projects,” offers a comprehensive action plan for delivering projects on time, on task and on budget.

The resource offers examples within each of these elements. For example, in delivering projects on time, the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs will team up to speed up the environmental permitting process for Internet expansion projects on tribal lands.

For delivering projects on task, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has created a grant portal targeting applicants for high-speed Internet funding. And to deliver projects on budget, the Department of Commerce and departments of Transportation and Energy will initiate a dig-once initiative, which allows interagency coordination for construction projects like broadband construction to prevent redundancies.

The resource also offers examples outside of the broadband space, from water infrastructure to transportation and beyond. The resource can be found on the White House website.


Last week, construction began in rural San Diego County on the first part of the 10,000-mile broadband network known as the “Middle-Mile” broadband network. As of now, about one in five Californians lack reliable access to affordable, high-speed Internet.

The $3.6 billion project will cover the entire state to bring high-speed Internet access to Californians who need it. When the network is complete, funding for last-mile efforts will also support Internet connections from middle-mile lines.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to allocate $6 billion for broadband expansion in the state. The legislation included funding to build and operate a state-owned middle-mile network, set up last-mile broadband connections, create a loan loss reserve fund to support local governments and nonprofits, and create the position of a broadband czar and a broadband advisory committee.


In other workforce planning news, a new paper from EY explores how government officials can develop a better citizen experience through technology.

Four key actions are recommended to provide a better citizen experience: planning future workforce needs, developing new skills in employees, fostering a positive environment through leadership and culture, and creating a meaningful employee experience to increase productivity.

The paper includes three sections. The first examines global trends that are currently disrupting government workforces; the second reimagines the public-sector workforce and offers actions government entities can take; and the third explores what digital leadership might look like in 2030.

For example, the paper cites findings that 40 percent of public-sector workers’ core skills will need to change in the next five years. It also offers specific steps that can be taken to create a workforce plan, in addition to offering examples of steps that have been taken by other government entities to combat these challenges.


Results for America has released the 2022 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence, which showcases 263 examples of data-driven practices, policies, programs and systems in 41 states. This is an increase in scope from last year, with 61 additional examples and five additional states.

The ability to collect and use data more efficiently is closely tied with digital equity in that it can improve the citizen experience by expanding information technology capacity — which is especially important as government services become increasingly digital.

It also recognizes eight leading states: Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Utah and Connecticut. Nine states received honorable mentions: Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Arizona and Rhode Island.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.