Local Government Roundup

Hey there and welcome to a special edition of the DorobekINSIDER.

I hope you had a wonderful and cool Fourth of July. Chris Dorobek is on vacation in Austria, but we couldn’t leave you hanging so I’ve come up with a best of program for you to enjoy. Today’s focus in on local government:

  • The challenge is to be innovative. What about an innovation fund. They are actually trying this out in Michigan. We’ll talk to the person behind it about how it works… their goals… and what they’ve learned already. Click here for the full story.
  • Making cloud computing work on the state and local level…it isn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3. But there are some helpful tips. Click here for the full story.


I’ve been following discussions on GovLoop over the past several months on whether government should fund innovation initiatives and how it could do so during tough fiscal conditions, so I was really interested in hearing about Behen’s experience of getting the innovation fund off the ground in a state that has been hit hard during the recession. He credits two main things for the success of the program, which provides loans to state agencies, local governments, and nonprofits for innovative IT projects:

Strong Leadership

Behen talks about the importance of strong executive sponsorship in getting the fund off the ground. The conditions that allowed for this in Michigan were a combination of a governor (with an IT background!) who understands the importance of technology and innovation, a director of technology and budget who believes in funding IT projects that have both a strong ROI and potential to help reinvent the state, and a great relationship with the legislature.

Giving Loans, Not Grants

One of the unique aspects of Michigan’s innovation fund is that the state provides loans, not grants, to agencies, local governments, and non-profits. Behen thinks this is where some past attempts at establishing similar funds have failed. By providing a loan, rather than a grant, the state can keep the fund operating in perpetuity, rather than having to constantly replenish it. Loans also cause applicants to really understand the potential ROI and strength of their business case, since they maintain risk associated with having to repay the loan.

To hear more about how the fund works, check out this clip:

Cloud computing is taking the business and government world by storm. Just like anything else new, it’s uncharted waters and guidelines and best practices are hard to come by.

Of course the federal government has the NIST standards and the FedRAMP programs to guide the way on cloud services and acquisitions, but what about state and local government? A commission led by TechAmerica sat down last October to come up with a standard of best practices for State and Local government looking towards the cloud.

On the DorobekINSIDER we sat down with Michael Kerr the staff director of the commission to gather some cloud insight. The first thing we asked Michael about was the report itself and how they went about getting the information to bundle all the best practices together. In his answer Michael went in depth on the reasons and benefits of why cloud and why now for state and local gov.

The report that the commission came up with is rather extensive so in order to save you time we asked Michael to highlight the best parts of the report. Listen to his answers below.

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