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State and Local Government CIOs and Technology Staff

silhouette of people against a sunset for Government Technology's 2021 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers
What would have happened if the COVID-19 pandemic had hit in the 1980s?

Think about it: The world is now in a recession because the coronavirus has created so many obstacles to normal economic function. But despite that, a large chunk of the workforce — about one-quarter as of December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — has been able to continue working remotely, hampering the disease’s spread while keeping the wheels turning.

In government, the percentage of people teleworking has been even higher than that. And it wouldn’t have been possible without technology.

CIOs, take a bow.

In a time when government has been under immense strain to serve the public with fewer resources and less time, the IT shops stepped up. Thanks to the investments CIOs have made over the years, as well as their quick thinking and bold action in 2020, government has been able to keep serving the public while minimizing the risks of the deadly virus.

It wasn’t just telework, either. In our Digital States, Digital Counties and Digital Cities surveys this year, as well as countless interviews and news reports, Government Technology has seen examples of state and local IT getting it done everywhere we look. They scrounged up laptops for workers to use from home. They deployed thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots to help students take classes online. They rapidly expanded call center capacity to handle the flood of questions coming in from the public. They helped unemployment insurance systems handle an unprecedented level of demand. They helped move government services online. To support it all, they expanded networks, beefed up cybersecurity and deployed new technology in record time.

Has it been flawless? No, of course not. There have been hiccups, mistakes and even failures that carried real costs. But in these times, that was to be expected. Given popular perception of government ineptitude, perhaps many will be surprised that more didn’t go wrong.

From our view, CIOs at every level of government deserve a massive round of applause for their work supporting our public institutions during a historic test of the nation’s mettle. Thank you. 

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.