State and local governments: coping

State and local governments: coping

The states, though besieged by budget deficits, terrorist attacks and an economic downturn, are surprisingly OK. That was the word from Federal Sources Inc.'s 8th annual State of the States conference yesterday in Washington.

Federal Sources president Jim Kane characterized the state and local market at last year's conference as a 'buy.' This year, he called it a 'hold' but said the market remains attractive.

Keynoter Rock Regan, Connecticut's CIO, said the top issues facing state CIOs are 'e-gov, homeland security and oh, by the way--both.'

Cybersecurity gets 'scarier every day,' Regan said, to the point that he meets with his security team daily. 'Cyberattacks are becoming worse, more complex, more frequent,' he said. 'Every day we see new viruses. And the biggest challenge is the end user.' Although Connecticut has tried to educate users about viruses, he said, 'You'd be surprised how many people will still open an e-mail attachment.'

Costas Toregas, president of Public Technology Inc., spoke about the 'state of the local.' Homeland security 'is like having Y2K every day,' Toregas said.

Other CIOs shared their experiences in trying to make e-government workable. James Dillon, CIO of New York, said he once was a Greyhound bus driver and kept getting lost. 'My motto then was, 'I'm lost, but I'm making such good time I don't want to stop.' That's still my motto.'

Ohio CIO Gregory Jackson agreed with Dillon and Arun Behati, director of e-gov for California, that communications between federal and state governments could stand improvement. 'Although I'm pleased with the appointment of Mark Forman as e-gov czar,' Jackson said, 'I don't see the one-on-one dialogue between feds and states that I think there should be.'

Otto Doll, CIO of South Dakota, and Suzanne Peck, chief technology officer of the District of Columbia, gave a presentation on citizen protection. Alisoun Moore, CIO of Montgomery County, Md., joined David Molchany, CIO of Fairfax County, Va., and Norman Jacknis, CIO of Westchester County, N.Y., to discuss outsourcing.

Ronald Miller, CIO of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA director Joseph Albaugh heard that firemen at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 were sending runners with handwritten reports because their communications radios were overwhelmed. Albaugh thought the failure was one reason why so many firemen died, Miller said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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