Government Runs on IT: Especially During a Pandemic
Amy Glasscock, Senior Policy Analyst, National Association of State Chief Information Officers
“Expect surprises.” That’s what National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) executive director Doug Robinson always reminds his staff. But I think none of us could have expected the surprise of a global pandemic which would send us all home to work, cause us to cancel our spring conference, and require us to shift our priorities overnight.
In early March as we saw the COVID-19 virus starting to spread in the United States, we dusted off an old document from 2007 that NASCIO had published around planning and response to a pandemic. During the second week of March using the old publication as an outline, we wrote, edited, revised and finally published a new document, “COVID-19: Planning and Response Guidance for State CIOs.” We also built a COVID-19 resource page on our website. This was on Thursday March 12. That evening we all packed up our laptops and other technology so we could spend the next day trying out working from home (you know, just in case). We never went back to the office.
During that second week of March we also started holding bi-weekly calls for our state CIOs to share, discuss and ask questions of each other based on challenges they were facing around COVID-19. State CIOs are responsible for the enterprise technology of their state governments. From providing the rapid and expansive implementation of remote work for the states’ workforces, to supporting and upgrading overburdened systems, to fending off cybersecurity attacks, state CIOs are critical in the continuity of government during the COVID-19 pandemic. State government is operating right now largely because of technology. Our job right now as a state government association is to support them. Providing a regular platform for interaction is just one way to do that. NASCIO holds similar calls for state chief information security officers.
To provide more sharing and learning opportunities for members, NASCIO doubled up on publishing our podcast, NASCIO Voices, talking with state CIOs about how they are responding to COVID-19. Instead of publishing every other week, we started publishing every week for this special series.
And finally, NASCIO ‘s government affairs work continues by advocating for NASCIO-endorsed H.R. 5823, the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which Congress is considering adding to additional COVID-19 stimulus legislation, as well as monitoring any possible funding for state and local government.
As some state CIOs start to think about what the return to the workplace looks like, we’ll be there for those conversations too, updating our guidance document as things progress and bringing our members together (remotely for now) to share. While they provide the continuity of government, we will make sure NASCIO remains adaptable and relevant, no matter what surprises are on the horizon.