Gearing up for the future of tech in government

Give Michigan, Illinois and North Carolina credit for innovative high-tech solutions

At a time when the need for government to better engage citizens and businesses has grown more urgent in this technology-driven world, these three states are looking to define smart government in the digital age.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in August tapped David DeVries, a veteran of the federal government IT development, to serve as the state’s CIO. His duties will include directing Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

DeVries brings to his new post experience in modernize aging IT infrastructure and improving cybersecurity at the federal level.

In Illinois, the state government recently launched a 2017-2019 cybersecurity strategy considered both bold and forward-thinking. The state’s Chief Information Security Officer, Kirk Lonbom, described the effort as “establishing a culture of cyber-risk ownership with our business leaders.”

Lonbom said that a significant amount of time was spent meeting with state agency directors and other executives regarding the cyber threat and the potential impact on the state’s ability to deliver critical services to citizens. He said that they worked hard to ensure business leaders understood that cybersecurity is a business issue, and not an IT issue.

He added that for the state of Illinois, it is a life, health and safety issue. “Should certain systems fail,” he said, “there is a true risk of lives being affected,” adding that he’s proud to say that the state’s executives have a much clearer understanding, and Illinois continues to nurture these relationships.

In August, the third state, North Carolina, assembled a panel of experts from all levels of government to discuss approaches to move their respective organizations forward.

Called the North Carolina Digital Government Summit, the officials from state and local government hashed out the issues of working with vendors, defining “smart in the digital age and accurately measuring success.

After some debate, they concluded that smart government means different things to different organizations, adding that when it comes to helping innovation and new ideas thrive, the local and regional levels offered the most agility and flexibility. At the same time, smaller towns are well suited to carefully deploying solutions and measuring their success in a controlled environment, although they often face greater funding challenges than larger government organizations.

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