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States Rise to Administrative Challenges of Federal IT Support

At last week’s NASCIO conference, state technology leaders recommended focusing on developing strong relationships with municipalities to help meet the administrative burden posed by the influx of resources from recent federal funding packages.

Rhode Island Chief Digital Officer Brian Tardiff
Brian Tardiff
Government Technology/David Kidd
Given the choice, technology leaders in government would rather have an abundance of resources than a shortage. And that includes the dollars and cents it takes to fund modern technology to support the business of government.

The last few years have seen the passage of several large-scale federal funding packages, many of which have made their way to the state CIO's office. At last week's NASCIO Midyear conference, GT asked state leaders about any unanticipated challenges they've run across in putting that money to work.

A common response was to lead with gratitude for the opportunities the funding offers to modernize legacy systems, support connectivity and bolster cyber defenses. But New Hampshire CIO Denis Goulet made another point we heard more than once: Managing large sums of money is a particular challenge — nearly as great, he added, as managing a “shrinking business, where you’re cutting.”

“We have that fast pace that we have to go, particularly for ARPA because you have to have the funds encumbered by a certain point and then fully expended by a certain point,” he said. “What I find myself doing is pushing my team and the agencies harder than I might normally do to deliver results, so that we’re not leaving money on the table on those projects.”

As for Rhode Island Chief Information Officer (and Chief Digital Officer) Brian Tardiff, his skills developing and maintaining relationships with jurisdictions throughout the state have served him well in wading through the administrative requirements linked to federal funding like the state and local cybersecurity grant program.

"We wouldn't be successful in the execution of that grant program in particular if we didn't have those relationships," Tardiff said.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.