Understanding the State of State-Level IT

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) annual member survey aimed to get a picture of what is currently happening in IT implementation at the state level. It focused on how states are funding their IT work and how they are implementing key technologies.

Show Me the Money

The survey found that state CIO offices have a median budget of $132 million, with high levels of federal funding resulting from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the American Rescue Plan, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But with the level of modernization needed to meet citizen expectations of digital government, that frequently is not enough.

States are increasingly moving to a "chargeback" model where IT funding comes from the business unit where it is used. For example, the Human Resources Department would be responsible for paying for the licenses and development costs of their HR information system, rather than that being seen as an overhead expense funded out of IT. This model allows CIOs to use more of their budget for large-scale IT modernization projects that stretch over many years and impact multiple departments.

Cybersecurity as Top Priority

For the past 10 years, state CIOs have listed cybersecurity as their top priority. With this long-term focus, it is not surprising that 80 percent of respondents have developed a "cybersecurity disruption response plan." This is up significantly from 66 percent in 2022. Within those plans, CIOs are focused on ransomware as their top risk.

One area in cyber that showed a decline was the investment in cyber insurance. Fifty-three percent of states reported having cybersecurity insurance, as compared to 55 percent in 2020 (the last time this question was asked). As a new product, cybersecurity insurance pricing has proved volatile, with premiums rising quickly. CIOs report that money is better spent on hardening defenses instead of funding high premiums.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Deck

NASCIO also asked which new technologies they believe will have the greatest impact on state government in the years ahead. Fifty-three percent of respondents named generative AI. CIOs report that generative AI holds the promise to increase speed and efficiency, particularly for digital citizen services, cybersecurity operations, and fraud prevention. However, respondents stated that careful implementation is needed to achieve those results. Many states are forming advisory councils to focus on secure and responsible use of AI. Implementations of AI must be evaluated to be free of bias and protect privacy and constitutional rights.

Cloud Use Continues to Grow

In a separate report, NASCIO looked at cloud adoption. This study found that 88 percent of respondents are expediting cloud adoption across agencies. Health departments are most aggressively adopting cloud. They see cloud solutions as a way to enhance customer service, especially for benefits-claims processing and case management workloads. The report found that employment, transportation, workforce management, and education departments are also increasingly looking to the cloud to help with digital government goals.

For more insights into how state agencies are modernizing IT, check out these resources from GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

  • Generative AI in Cyber Security: A Double-Edged Sword (November 21, 2023; webcast) - The pace of the adoption of generative AI is set to eclipse nearly every other major technology introduction in the past two decades. This event will examine the defensive and offensive uses of generative AI and attempt to predict what the future holds for the cybersecurity industry.
  • Smart Cities Connect Fall Conference & Expo (November 28-30, 2023; National Harbor, MD) - This year's event has a special focus on the Infrastructure Law, which promises $1.7T+ in funding for local communities. Attendees share a commitment to city-first programming that inspires real conversation, meaningful connection, and approachable action in local communities.
  • GovAI Summit 2023 (December 4-6, 2023; Arlington, VA) - Learn practical applications and the opportunities of AI in the public sector across .mil, .gov, .edu, and .org. Real use cases explore the art of the possible and the challenges with getting there.
  • Envision: A State and Local Government IT Summit 2023 (December 12-13, 2023; Long Beach, CA) - Bringing together IT leaders from city, county, and state government organizations from around the country, this event provides opportunities to learn from peers, build a "go-to" network for brainstorming, and an opportunity to share successes and challenges.
  • Avoiding Ransomware Checkmate (white paper) - Cybercriminals are increasingly launching ransomware attacks on state and local governments and educational institutions because they know they are profitable targets. This paper details the role of network detection and response and strategic decryption solutions in stopping suspicious activity before it's too late.
  • There's Little Evidence for Today's AI Alarmism (white paper) - Many AI fears are speculative, and many others seem manageable. Unless serious problems suddenly emerge, AI innovation should proceed and be allowed to proliferate. Learn what to look for in AI solutions to ensure they meet their promise.

Explore GovEvents and GovWhitePapers to find more information on how to best support state CIOs.

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