NASCIO Conference Analysis and Updates

Published: October 26, 2020

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Analysis of state initiatives stemming from the 2020 NASCIO Conference.

Market Analysis Updates: Week of 12/28/2020 - NASCIO

The below analysis is from discussions throughout the NASCIO 2020 Virtual Conference. Check back for continuing updates as states implement these practices and initiatives as well as combat the pandemic.

NASCIO Conference Highlight - State CIO Survey Results (Top Priorities)


CIO business models

State & local collaboration




Data management


When the pandemic hit, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of the CIO. What emerged:

  • Automation solutions and emerging techs: such as chatbots (virtual agents) for citizen service inquires and mobile apps for contact tracing/exposure notifications
  • Changes in the way data is used and forced to expedite things
  • Voicebots to support call center interactions
  • Automated body temp scanners/sensors
  • Automated fraud detection using predictive analytics
  • Block chain to track COVID-19 cases
  • Wearable social distancing devices/wristbands
  • Virtual/augmented reality

What is likely to stick from pandemic response?

  • Expanded work from home/remote options and greater emphasis on collaboration
  • Increased attention on digital government services/citizen experience
  • Investments in broadband expansion/adoption
  • Increased priority and investment in legacy modernization
  • Expanded cloud/services/SaaS deployments
  • Accelerated use of data analytics
  • Changes to state govt facilities, reduction of office space config
  • Broader adoption of AI/automation
  • Investments in business continuity and operational resiliencies

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Broadband

State CIOs were asked what the top 5 elements to state broadband were and the final results were funding, digital divide in rural areas, accessibility, affordability, and data mapping. Most elements are tied to funding and equitable access which continue to be the primary drivers of decision-making in broadband. One major concern is the lack of profitability as companies have no incentive to expand based on number of users. Overall, broadband needs long term stability in order to be effective statewide.

Bright spot: rural powered co-ops, shifting investing to infrastructure owned by the public, solve broadband leads to better telehealth and more efficient tech ecosystem 

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Digital Government

Highlighted by the pandemic, a driver is improving online experience for citizens. State's are looking to optimize operations and lower costs all to increase public participation and engagement. These initiatives will need better collaboration among state agencies and more opportunities for innovation. A final note is to leverage data analytics to identify new services. 

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Emerging Tech

  • Improving citizen experience, improving state govt employee experiences
  • Improve citizen services with faster more accurate response time
  • Remove defects, reduce time, and improve the quality of services for internal state agency provides
  • Improve staff morale by eliminating low-value, repetitive tasks, and allowing staff to focus on strategic projects
  • Increase volumes of data and documents read and processed
  • Lower overall total costs of business
  • Eliminate need for staffing for routine work
  • Institute and enforce business processes for an agency or department-wide

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Cloud Adoption

Ultimate goals for state cloud: handle changing demands and data silos, make use of outsourcing, consolidation, collaboration suite, cross-agency work (COVID-19, telehealth, contact tracing), cybersecurity advisory teams, creative funding uses, invest in both tech and soft skills (non-technical mentors). 

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Legacy Modernization

Top initiatives to modernize tech

  • Out of necessity not choice: moving data center (security reasons and cloud/SaaS services)
  • Master data management
  • E government portal, statewide systems

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - Digital services

Data governance and discovery are at the forefront in digital services. States are making use of data catalogs to be more strategic about inventory. Most states need better data stewardship to create the necessary strategic initiatives across the board. At NASCIO, most states had a gaping hole for data talent citing the difficulty in gaining expert talent at state agencies.

What states need to do better:

  • cross-agency partnerships
  • increased stakeholder engagement
  • managing change: collaboration, cooperation, communication (3 Cs)

NASCIO 2020 Conference Highlight - CISO Survey Results

Key takeaways:

  • COVID-19 has challenged continuity and amplified gaps
  • Connecting the cyber dots across state, local, and higher education collaboration
  • Strength, consistency, and enforcement in numbers (centralized law enforcement)

Top safeguards reinforced or established by CISO. As part of the COVID response

  1. Safeguard teleconferencing and video solutions and update policy and procedures
  2. Establish secure work connections with multifactor authentication
  3. Provide guidance on phishing and disinformation campaigns
  4. Ensure continuity of operations plans/business continuity plans are up-to-date
  5. Provide continuous guidance and COVID-19 related scams and precautions

COVID-19 continuing challenges

  1. Lack of sufficient cybersecurity budget (last 10 years)
  2. Inadequate cybersecurity staffing
  3. Legacy infrastructure and solutions to support emerging
  4. Lack of dedicated cybersecurity budget
  5. Inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals

Call to actions:

  • Legacy modern agenda (take infrastructure to the modern era)
  • CISOs should build on success of their pandemic response
  • Elevate their position in strategic discussions
  • Adjust their strategies to the new reality
  • Need to educate people (not use to using tech for remote work: need to use standard tech and why is that important to standardized (cyber principles)

Connecting the cyber dots across state, local, and higher education

  • Partnering local governments improves cybersecurity posture
  • Effectiveness of cyber posture is weak in some cities compared to others
  • Very limited collaboration
  • Need: awareness in training, build bridges to local governments and public Edu entities
    • Advocate for enhancing local government cybersecurity
    • Encourage the adoption of services provided by the state

Strength, consistency, and enforcement in numbers

  • A centralized organization is often in a better position to manage:
    • Operations, resources, talent, services offered to local governments and higher education

Identity access management

  • How much of a jump it has made (priority level 2 for CISOs)
  • Remote workforce in the future and citizens accessing services

Cyber threats deep dive:

  • Cyber can be tool and huge avenue to get closer to the business (when cyber comes closer to business it helps with funding)

NASCIO Discussion Highlight - State and Local Cyber Collaboration

Collaboration across the state and local governments is paramount to weather the pandemic. The NASCIO conference made that very clear as states need to work with their own agencies and citizens but also neighboring states and the federal government. For cyber collaboration the biggest threat is increased cyber attacks and states must be prepared with crisis management. 

Preparedness is key and states were asked what type of policies or procedures are being put in place and what are you going to do when you’re under duress

  • Security and operations team deployed
  • Retrofitting tech and solutions that become outdated so quickly is not a great process

NASCIO 2020 Conference Highlight - Emerging tech

What emerging tech will be most impactful in 3-5 years?

  1. AI (ML, RPAs (repetitive process automation), chatbots, virtual voice assistance)
  2. Low-code application development
  3. States really trying to be more efficient
  4. Connected vehicles, sensor technology
  5. Internet of Things (IoT)

Where will emerging tech make the most measurable improvement and impact in your state?

  1. Citizen-facing digital services - having a single identity for all their services
  2. COVID-19 response and recovery
  3. Health and human services
  4. Fraud, waste, and abuse

What are the most significant challenges or barriers to adoptions?

  1. Budget
  2. Aligning use cases to tech
  3. Legacy IT infrastructure
  4. Lack of necessary staff skills
  5. Organizational silos

What are the most significant challenges or barriers to adoptions?

Additional notes from state leaders are to include emerging tech in the enterprise architecture to understand its outcome and value. One major avoidance cited was to stop the top-down approach to emerging tech. This approach slows the growth of innovation and inhibits problem solving. 

To encourage greater use of emerging techs states called for more use of vendor demos, using innovation funds, facilitate pilot projects, and to make use of procurement waivers 

NASCIO 2020 Conference Highlight - CIO perspective on AI/Automation

The pandemic created a huge surge in the use of AI and automation as workforces were remote and citizens needed engagement with government more than ever. The pandemic presented a unique element in that it allowed for greater receptivity to process automation. States hope to keep the momentum going to address citizen needs of benefits, unemployment systems, and keeping all systems and services secure. 

NASCIO 2020 Conference Highlight - On the Horizon

In the future State CIOs will continue to need agility, communication skills, diplomacy and negotiations skills, and political acumen. Major funding area that needs to be addressed is for cybersecurity. As states move to remote workforces and plan to keep many remote elements, there is a greater need for security. The areas of cybersecurity that will stick around will be cyber awareness training, 24/7 security operations center, and cyber incident response teams.