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More Funds Available to State and Local IT Directors to Update Systems

The money will enable states to make improvements to cybersecurity, legacy modernization, and data center consolidation.

Public IT administrators are getting much needed monies to upgrade their agencies' hardware and software, says Dean Johnson, senior executive government advisor, public sector at Ensono, a tech advisory firm and managed service provider (MSP).

"We are in an unprecedented time right now," Johnson says. "For the first time in decades, most states are flush with cash and have federal dollars flowing into them to allow them to drive much-needed improvements in things like cybersecurity, legacy modernization and data center consolidation."

He says the pandemic response and recent federal legislation are paying for some of those technology upgrades. "The federal government has really stepped up and provided much needed funding to not only address the pandemic response, but also infrastructure improvements." One piece of legislation that helped is H.R.3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law provides grants for transportation infrastructure as well as broadband deployment and expansion.

Johnson believes Congress will continue to redirect funding to states for a variety of infrastructure projects, including technology updates. He spotlights some of the potential upgrades. "These could include forward-thinking projects like improving the digital experience for its citizens that consume their services and introducing features like artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and business analytics—items that will really improve the lives of the citizens that require services from government. These are exciting times." A chatbot is a software application used to conduct an online chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, instead of providing direct communication with a live human agent.

Johnson points to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) latest annual survey of the state CIOs to identify and prioritize the top policy and technology issues facing state government. The CIOs' top priorities are identified and used as input to NASCIO's programs, planning for conference sessions and publications.

Top policy and technology priorities for 2022:
1. Cybersecurity and risk management
2. Digital government/digital services
3. Broadband/wireless connectivity
4. Cloud services
5. Legacy modernization of IT systems

As governments acquire new IT systems, Johnson says it's crucial for local and state jurisdictions to have accurate knowledge of the problems they are looking to solve. He adds that it is important that the agencies maximize the value of the technology they are acquiring across all the necessary departments. "In order to do so, these teams must have a clear understanding of the technical use cases for what they are purchasing, and how each can be effectively and efficiently deployed for their needs. New tech continues to pop up as we move to a digital-first environment, and when governments begin to modernize, the buying team needs to have researched which solution will be most useful and cost-effective for reaching their goals."

Read the rest of this article on American City & County.

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