State CIOs seek more funding for cybersecurity

It was a fly-in, not a love-in, but there were still plenty of encounters between 15 state CIOs and Capitol Hill legislators this month at the fourth annual fly-in sponsored by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

The CIOs asked that cybersecurity and interoperability costs be counted as allowable expenses for homeland security funding, said Gerry Wethington, Missouri CIO and NASCIO president. Much of that money has gone into 'boots and suits''the hazmat equipment that first responders need, he said. But states also need more workable communications infrastructures.

The legislators said they were going to focus on that particular gap, Wethington said. In January, when a tanker truck fell off an overpass near Baltimore and exploded, first responders were confused about exactly who was on the scene.

'Technology has to be refreshed,' South Dakota CIO Otto Doll said.

Tearing down information silos has recently become a popular goal, Wisconsin CIO Matthew Miszewski said, 'and we've got to be careful not to build a bigger silo [for wireless interoperability] so nobody can talk to anybody.'

Cybersecurity now encompasses much more than viruses and worms, Wethington said. 'Somebody could take down a water supply system' remotely, he said.

Such problems can't be solved piecemeal, Utah CIO Val Oveson said. It will take an integrated approach by state, local and federal governments working together.

Stay on the highway

'We don't need to make another information superhighway,' Wethington said. 'We need to leverage what we have.'

The state CIOs still find sharing information with the federal government a thorny issue. 'The feds have to get their act together about what they can share before they deal with states,' Wethington said. 'States are better prepared and more capable of data sharing than what we see at the federal level. Don't tell us to run another set of message switches.'

Some of the legislators brought up the value of integrating geographic information systems, Wethington said. 'They raised the issue, not us,' he said.

NASCIO also made headway in communicating to the legislators the importance of enterprise architectures. A few years ago, nobody talked about enterprise architecture, Wethington said, but now it's part of the legislators' language.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.


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