How states stack up on cyber readiness

Group rates states’ IT modernization work

Many states are just beginning to modernizing their IT infrastructure, according to a study by the Internet Association, a trade group representing technology companies.

The analysis of state and local technology overall modernization plans released Dec. 15 includes an interactive map called “SITARA” – State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Information Technology Advancing Reform Achievements. It evaluates governments in three categories:  cybersecurity, IT infrastructure and modernization. The association used 11 metrics across the three categories to give scores. 

In the group’s analysis, 24 states fell into the “getting started” category. Only three reached “very good,” and none reached categories rated even higher, like “exceptional.”

“Taking a look at the different states and territories … shows just how varied the IT landscape is in this country,” Internet Association Director of Cloud Policy Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi said in a press briefing.

The highest-ranking state, Minnesota, made progress in all three categories.

In the cybersecurity category, the state scored points by being a member of the two Information Sharing and Analysis Centers. It also got points for having a $5 million cybersecurity budget, low numbers of confirmed ransomware attacks, a statewide IT security strategy.

In the IT infrastructure category, Minnesota scored points by having a cloud-first statute prioritizing commercial cloud solutions, something that only two other states have.

Finally, the state did well in the modernization efficacy category because of its centralized chief information security officer, its central IT team called Minnesota IT Services and a CIO who reports to the governor.

Ghaffair-Tabrizi discussed the importance of this formal codification in a press call, saying that “legislating the requirement to continuously modernize” will make legacy IT “a legacy concept itself.”

 The two states with the next highest overall scores -- Florida and California -- got there by being strong contenders in some categories, but not all of those the study measured, which shows that IT modernization is not a one-size-fits-all project. Nonetheless, the study can help spread best practices, Ghaffari-Tabrizi said.

“SITARA allows us to identify the states and territories that need the most help and where we can lay out tangible examples of what other governments have done to address similar challenges,” he said.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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