Officials with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and CompTIA Public Technology Institute hosted their 11th annual State and Local 2022 Tech Forecast on Jan. 27 with a focus on hot-button digital government service issues including user centric design, improved customer experience, security, automation, and citizen identity management.
The long-running forecast event – presented by NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson and CompTIA PTI Executive Director Dr. Alan Shark – has become a beacon of consistency amid the ever-churning state CIO ranks. In 2021, 13 state CIO positions turned over, and with 36 gubernatorial elections set for November of this year, state CIO suites may be due for greater changes in 2023.
NASCIO’s Robinson kick things off with a fan favorite, the “Top 10” strategies, policy issues, and management processes as identified by 49 state CIOs in the group’s survey just completed last month.
“And no surprise, cybersecurity was number one for the ninth consecutive year,” he said.
Digital government services continue to grow at a solid number two on the list – clearly impacted by the demands of citizens during the coronavirus pandemic. It was also no surprise that broadband and wireless were moving up the list. Next was cloud services, which dropped a bit from the previous ranking, but remains a perennial favorite since its introduction a decade ago.
Legacy modernization – always a big priority in the Federal sector – returned to the NASCIO Top 10, while new to the list is identity access management. “This was not a surprise as it supports cybersecurity requirements and digital services to citizens, plus internally for state employees. It’s going to get a lot of attention we believe during the next couple of years,” Robinson said.
Workforce issues are back for a return engagement, and enterprise architecture is on the list for the first time. Data and information management are included as well.
“Interestingly, consolidation and optimization – which had been number one for several years since its introduction in 2007 – fell to No. 10,” Robinson said. “I would point out one thing that is conspicuously absent from this list was budget and cost control which had been on list since 2006,” he added.
IT Budgets Climbing
Looking at the overall landscape for 2022, state CIOs anticipate increasing revenues and spending increases in the double digits in some states – making for dramatic increases over previous years.
“So the question on the table for CIOs is just what type of IT spending increases we can expect, as already a number of states had some fairly hefty proposals from governors in their budgets around increasing IT spending,” Robinson said.
There’s specific new funding for cybersecurity and broadband, along with potentially large amounts in other areas still to be determined from the impact of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act approved by Congress in 2021. The ARP Act funds application processes are coming out, and states are still determining how to allocate those funds over the next several years that will come from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also approved by Congress last year.
Speaking of the latter funding bill, “the big items there are broadband at $65 billion, and for the first time ever, a $1 billion state and local cyber security grant program with $200 million allocated in 2022 alone,” Roberson explained.
During the Q&A portion of the Jan. 27 event, I asked Doug about state CIOs’ roles in broadband. He confirmed what I had surmised – that the state CIOs’ role in broadband had shrunk dramatically over the last 5-10 years as only about 20 percent were leading state efforts in this area.
Where state CIOs controlled most if not all state telecommunication connectivity a decade ago, broadband has taken on a much higher profile since then, primarily due to political considerations and heightened interest of governors and state legislators. High profile commissions and new chief broadband officer positions in state executive suites have flourished.
As to the continuity of leadership discussion, state CIOs’ current median tenure is approximately 25 months, which may increase slightly before the November elections. “Thirteen transitions in 2021 and in 2022 as of January, we’ve already had two transitions – a new state CIO in Wyoming and a new state CIO announced just last week in Virginia,” said Robinson.
PTI’s Shark followed with the view from the local government perspective in several categories for 2022.
“It’s going to be a strange year for the vendor communities and hopefully for local governments, especially in areas of IT modernization,” he said. Vendors are offering solutions in cybersecurity, and they’re dealing with customer experience, broadband, cloud services, and more.
“Local governments are going to realize that they don’t have the bandwidth, and they’re going to have to outsource things more than ever before,” Shark said.
He said that 2021 had been rather interesting in terms of the headlines that have highlighted local governments. “If you look at some of these headlines, many come back to cybersecurity and one of the biggest fears that we hear all the time from cities and counties across the country is ransomware. It strikes fear in everyone’s heart,” Shark said.
What makes things even more frustrating is that usually these attacks occur on a Friday afternoon, or on a long weekend, and this is very intentional, he explained. “So this is something that we’re going to watch. We’re hoping that zero trust will play a better role throwing up the defenses. We’re encouraged with what we’re hearing from the Federal government in terms of some of the things that they’re talking to us about, coming in and helping us, working more closely with the states as well. It’s kind of like help is on the way,” he said.
Shark said the current environment harkened back to 2020, with many similar top issues. The only difference now is that local governments have more money to spend.
“And where do we start,” he asked. “It’s the biggest fear that many have expressed in smaller jurisdictions – what if we don’t have the expertise to apply for funding, or to come up with a 25 percent matching funds, which in some cases are required? So we’re going to have to work through all these things to deploy.”
As he has done for many years now, Shark concluded with some predictions based on PTI’s research, which tracked with the NASCIO survey results.
“Cybersecurity – no surprise – remains front and center of attention,” he said. “The years of cyber insurance coverage are coming to an end. You’re seeing more people reporting coverage with premium increases, and it’s even harder to even obtain it.” He believes that zero trust becomes essential, and is pleased that this is being pushed at the Federal level.
Cloud solutions are become denser, as locals realize the advantages of moving to the cloud and are moving faster in that direction, he continued, adding that managed services will continue to grow, according to PTT research.
“However, this will not take away the responsibilities of the CIO,” he said. “If anything, it makes it easier for them to concentrate on solutions and not worry as much about the day-to-day operations of where things are, and how things are operating. So the CIO position is alive and well in local government,” Shark said.
There’s much more. See full presentations at NASCIO web site here.