government data

State CIOs sketch out priorities for Trump administration

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers plans to release its advocacy priorities for the incoming Trump administration before the presidential inauguration in January.

In 2009, when the Obama transition team was making plans for the White House, it had a team devoted to technology, according to NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson. But there is no indication that Trump’s administration has set up a similar team, he said.

NASCIO has been in touch with the Trump campaign, but there is not a meeting set. “We do have some contacts [in the Trump transition team] and we’re working those,” he said.

Robinson met with four members of the Obama technology team in 2009 in which he was able to outline NASCIO’s priorities. The association went to the administration with recommendations on state broadband, what the federal CIO position should look like, ideas on cybersecurity and other areas.

Cybersecurity currently tops NASCIO’s advocacy priorities, and Robinson said he doesn’t expect that to change with the next administration. Other 2016 priorities include regulation, broadband and data sharing.

Some have been vocal about their concern with what they see as Donald Trump’s seeming unfamiliarity with cybersecurity and IT processes.

“I think it's safe to say the president-elect doesn’t have a lot of knowledge around the workings of government or the complexities of cyber,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said about the incoming administration at a Nov. 15 conference hosted by IT vendor Splunk.

Warner said he is willing to work with the Trump administration and hopes to find common ground on some issues. But he told the audience that if the administration can’t step up in the realm of IT, then industry will have to step up.

“We need your ideas and innovation and commitment now more than ever,” he said.

This is of utmost importance with regard to cybersecurity. “If we don’t maintain our vigilance” with regards to cybersecurity, “then there could be extraordinarily challenging circumstances.”

Funding concerns

State and local government IT advocates expressed concern over how the new administration would address technology funding. Jordan Kroll, senior manager at the IT Alliance for Public Sector, said the federal money given to states for IT is often used to improve services.

"States and localities have served as laboratories of innovation in thinking beyond municipal and state boundaries for the development of collaborative projects," Kroll told GCN. "We urge the new administration to continue to sustain shared IT investment and cross-collaborative activities, which can enable states to tap into new funding streams, provide relief to strained budgets and enhance public-facing services."

Robinson pointed out that much of the federal funding states receive is for programs like Medicaid, unemployment and child support. These programs have large IT budgets that the federal government helps to cover, he said.

Robinson said he is encouraged by Trump’s comments on infrastructure investment. NASCIO emphasized infrastructure when it met with Obama’s transition team in 2009. When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed, it included billions in infrastructure spending, some of which was for updating state legacy IT systems, he said.

“Again, I don’t believe I’ve heard ‘digital infrastructure’ as part of that conversation,” he said referring to Trump’s comments on infrastructure. “But we always like to expand the thought process there,” he said. ”A 30-year-old system to process unemployment claims is just as [much] an infrastructure concern as a bridge that needs that kind of maintenance.”

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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