State lines

Getting in touch. Of Mississippi's 82 counties, only 45 have e-mail capability. But the state is aiming to turn this around. Its first step will be to conduct a cybersecurity assessment of its counties that it will use to help plan a secure enterprise system.

Mississippi officials have secured $820,000 from the Homeland Security Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness to do a county-by-county cybersecurity assessment.

Each county will receive up to $10,000, said Mick Bullock, public affairs director for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. If, for example, it only costs $2,500 to perform a security assessment of Marion County's systems, the remaining $7,500 could be used to buy firewalls or encryption software.

'Mississippi has a modest computer system out in the counties,' said state auditor Phil Bryant. The cybersecurity assessment is a first step in linking state, federal and local systems, he said.

Outsourcing study. State governments usually are not aware of IT work that is sent offshore because it is done by subcontractors or by foreign firms using domestic addresses, according to a recent report.

The report, 'Your Tax Dollars at Work ... Offshore,' found that nearly every state has engaged foreign companies to perform IT work. The Washington-based research group Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First conducted the study for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a local union of the Communications Workers of America.

'It is important for states to know where the work they have contracted is being performed, and many states have no idea that this work is sent offshore,' said Phillip Mattera, the research group's director.

In many instances, state governments have awarded contracts to U.S. companies, only to find the work was subcontracted to an offshore vendor, the report said.

In other cases, states assume they are dealing with a domestic company because it uses a U.S. mailing address.

New comm. Virginia has taken another step toward replacing its nearly 30-year-old public-safety radio system, awarding a $329 million contract to Motorola Inc.

The Statewide Agencies Radio System, STARS, on the drawing board for almost five years, will provide digital voice and data connections to 20 agencies, including the state police and licensing and regulatory authorities.

Motorola will design and install about 130 mobile radio and microwave sites, distribute equipment and provide training under the five-year contract.

The first phase of the system, covering central Virginia, is expected to begin operation in 18 months, and the entire project is expected to be done by October 2009.

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