WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of tech executives that work with state and local government gathered at the annual Beyond the Beltway event on Friday in Tyson’s Corner, Va., to get a forecast from experts that follow the activity of the market. A total of $109 billion in spending is projected in calendar year 2019 — a sign of increased revenues coming into state and local coffers.
e.Republic Vice President of Research Joe Morris presented the outlook, based on the research and findings of the research team of the Center for Digital Government.* Morris went on to make more specific IT spending projections for specific verticals within the state and local government market.
Health and Human Services: $28 billion
Education: $28 billion
Transportation and Infrastructure: $13 billion
Public Safety and Justice: $9.7 billion
Utilities: $9.1 billion
Environment and Housing: $8 billion
“This is probably the most optimistic that I’ve ever been about where the market is going,” Morris said, noting increases in revenue streams like property taxes. “I think there are going to be tremendous opportunities.”
The CIO perspective
Also on hand to provide first-hand accounts of their biggest challenges in running and modernizing their organization’s technology were a slate of state and local technology officials. Among their most pressing concerns were attracting and developing a workforce capable of guiding organizational transitions to more modern IT infrastructure.
In Detroit, CIO Beth Niblock is competing with major employers like Ford, Chrysler and Quicken Loans, and although the city overhauled its job classifications and compensation structure a few years ago, Niblock suggested that the effort has aged quickly. Niblock also brought up a common challenge in her city, that of extending connectivity to all segments of the population.
“Sixty percent don’t have broadband in their homes and 40 percent don’t have data on their phones, so we have to do better,” she said.
Cybersecurity ranked as job No. 1 to each tech leader in attendance, many sharing their experiences with ransomware that have brought about changes in how they approach the ever-present threat.
Chester County, Pa., CIO Glenn Angstadt credited forward-thinking elected officials for IT investments that helped protect the county’s assets from a recent ransomware incident. “We had some tools in place to minimize the downside,” he said.
Atlanta CIO Gary Brantley revealed a back-to-basics IT strategy of “doing the little things very well,” focusing on “providng reliable and cost-effective services.” The city endured a major ransomware incident last year, prior to Brantley’s tenure as CIO, which has had a major impact on his approach. “We’ve become extremely intentional about our efforts as it relates to cyber,” Brantley said, praising Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s refusal to pay the ransom.
In North Carolina, CIO Eric Boyette makes cybersecurity resources available to counties within the state, adding that the state has helped several counties respond to ransomware attacks of their own. Boyette is also looking to mature the state’s use of cloud technologies, announcing an effort to develop partnerships with cloud security brokers to help move the state in that direction.
Stephanie Dedmon, Tennessee CIO, revealed that her state is also moving slowly when it comes to cloud, calling their approach “conservative.” But as both Dedmon and Boyette indicated, that is the direction they’re moving in.
And the data reveals that they’re not alone in focusing on migrating more IT infrastructure toward the cloud. “Forty-six percent [of CIOs surveyed by the Center for Digital Government] say 50 percent or more of their IT environment can go to the cloud,” Morris said, “only 8 to 9 percent of it is there today.”
*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Goverment Technology’s parent company.