If you were at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) conference in Minneapolis last week, you might have noticed a wide array of topics that were top-of-mind for state CIOs across the United States.
What is the NASCIO annual conference?
Every year, NASCIO brings together state CIOs, their teams, and a small number of vendor partners to discuss the most pressing information technology challenges facing state and local governments broadly.
While the conference featured educational sessions and keynote presentations, for those who are lucky enough to attend, the true value is in the networking and information exchange. CIOs and their teams from all fifty states are invited to convene at this exclusive event, where they are free to share the challenges that keep them up at night and share best practices and ideas for solving them. There were topics on the agenda that make an appearance every year, but some newcomers as well. Critical themes ranged from workforce shortages to AI, to whole-of-state cybersecurity. Here, we’ll walk through some of the most interesting newcomers on the list of priorities and delve into the progress states are making on their more long-standing challenges.
Generative AI: its benefits and risks to state government
Top of mind for many attendees, and on the agenda was generative AI. A session on this technology gaining major steam across all facets of life, delved into its potential uses and dangers for state government. The workshop covered how to mitigate the risks, but also how to harness the technology in a way that could benefit residents – with guardrails.
Some examples of how AI can help advanced state government are through chatbots for resident services, or natural language processing enabling call centers to reach more constituents. NASCIO’s 2019 Report on AI also lists the many applications of AI that are already in use today, including enhancing health and human services, transportation, and law enforcement. One session on the agenda even covered how AI might be used to solve procurement challenges.
Addressing the talent gap in state government and across the public sector
A very hot subject on the agenda this year was how states are addressing the talent gap for roles in technology. How to attract the new generation of young people entering the workforce to public service, and how to retain and develop staff that could be tempted by the ever-growing pool of private sector careers. Many states, such as the state of Arizona, are addressing this challenge with university partnerships that help build exposure to public service early, with the hopes that college graduates will choose full-time employment with the state government after they graduate.
Resident portals and improving the citizen experience
With the movement of digital transformation being long discussed at NASCIO, this year more emphasis was on the citizen experience. How to reduce the pain of residents logging in to a portal to interact with the government, procure services, and do business was top of mind, and discussed at length in a general session. In 2001, NASCIO issued a guide to states on digital government. The session covered a 2023 evaluation of the progress made towards fostering digital transformation.
How to leverage Identity Access Management and data governance?
Related to digital transformation and easing the citizen experience, was the challenge of securing resident’s digital identities and data online. Many states have already implemented a single-sign-on experience for residents. This layer of security aims to help residents access services more easily, avoid fraudulent accounts from leeching on statewide resources, and make a more secure experience for both states and residents alike.
Where did cybersecurity fall on the priority list?
The number one priority of state CIOs highlighted by NASCIO for 10 years running has been cybersecurity. States are under a constant barrage of cyber threats, aimed at obtaining sensitive resident data, hacking into state systems, and holding digital services for ransom. Historically, the public sector has been most disadvantaged in responding to threats due to challenges like the aforementioned talent gap, tight budgets, and legacy systems still in use today. Discussed at NASCIO was the importance of public/private partnerships that encourage cybersecurity vendors to partner with states in securing their IT estates. This includes providing no-cost risk assessments, sharing the importance of measuring and tracking cyber risk, and, where possible, driving a whole-of-state strategy around cybersecurity.
Underscoring the importance of tracking cyber risk in real time, across departments was the winner of NASCIO’s State IT Recognition Award. The State of Hawaii Office of Enterprise Technology Services won the award for its Cyber Risk Scoring System (CRSS) in the cybersecurity category. The submission detailed a dashboard they built that allowed them to track risk across multiple departments within the State – helping them not only better secure their endpoints, but also communicate cyber risk over time to leadership. Their project was conceived by the ETS team via a joint partnership with Tanium and is built on the Tanium Benchmark product. Read the winning submission here.
A new way to cybersecurity: the role of whole-of-state
Whole-of-state cybersecurity is a red-hot trend sweeping the nation, and it’s picked up a lot of steam over the last few years. An entire workshop at the event was dedicated to the state of Arizona’s whole-of-state approach to securing its public sphere through shared services, information-sharing, and a unified set of cybersecurity solutions used at all levels – from K-12 schools to state departments. Tanium has been a thought leader in this movement and has published a practical guide to whole-of-state cybersecurity for those interested in pursuing this approach in their region.
The 2023 NASCIO annual conference was a place where state CIOs, their teams, and the private sector converged to share information and best practices and build relationships to help address the most critical IT challenges facing state government today.
Learn more about how Tanium Converged Endpoint Management (XEM) supports state government with unparalleled visibility, comprehensive control, and the ability to remediate issues on the endpoint.