NASCIO Unveils To-Do List For States – Plus Your Weekend Reads

Priority lists are commonplace in government. There are the 25-point implementation plans, the 7-year contracts and the 30-leases. However, creating a priority list of action items to be completed in the next year is rare. But that is exactly what the National Association of State Chief Information Officers have done by releasing their annual list of priorities for 2014. Topping the list is cybersecurity, but no one expects to solve cybersecurity in a year, instead the priorities list gives a rundown of key issues and action items state and local governments can tackle in the next 365 days.

Mitch Herckis is the government affairs director for NASCIO. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that creating actionable priorities is the key to success.

“We do surveys with our members once a year, we use those surveys as a guide to figure out what issues are the most important to them. We also have an in-depth and continuing conversation with our board of directors, who are state CIOs, and based on those conversations and where they see the need for the most collaboration and assistance from the federal government, that’s where we draft our priorities from. We don’t imagine that any of these priorities will get done and solved in a year, but we do think we can make progress,” said Herckis. “For example if the big advocacy issue is cybersecurity, we can really focus on identity management. We can also build up the public sector IT workforce and promote common data standards.”

  1. Collaborating to secure the public sector – Priority

“Frankly, we have a situation where state governments have an equal amount of personally identifiable information on our citizens if not more than the federal government. We also have more data on critical infrastructure throughout the states. In many ways they have a harder time securing their infrastructure than the federal government does, simply because the resources at the state level are not as substantial as those at the federal level,” said Herckis. “Some of the hold up is regulatory in nature about what is sharable and what is not. Part of the problem is habit. We are trying to change those habits and create the vehicles of collaboration. The language is also a problem. The federal, state and local governments all have unique languages. We need to make sure they can share the information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm everyone with data, but provides what is needed and necessary.”

  1. Solution in the next 12 months?

“We are really happy that NIST is finalizing their cybersecurity framework. That is a big step forward. What we would a state and local government overlay for that framework. In addition, we want to see more action out of Congress. The first step would be codifying the work that has already been done. That is the vanilla stuff that sounds kinda boring when it comes to passing cybersecurity legislation, but is in fact incredibly important. In addition to all of that, there are things that can be done to help collaborate around information sharing and building the public sector IT workforce at all levels,” said Hericks.

  • Hiring the right people – Priority

“Back in 2009, we did a survey that well over 50% of IT professionals were eligible to retire in the next five years. Now in 2014, some of that attrition didn’t happen because of the recession and other reasons, but retirement is picking up,” said Herckis.

  • Solution in the next 12 months?

“Even more troubling recruitment is even harder than what the feds are facing because state government doesn’t have some of the cache that working for the intelligence community might for recent grads. Finding the talent and attracting the talent is all things that we need to find ways to fix. That is the core of building a sound cyber environment,” said Herckis.

  • Call for greater information sharing – Priority

“A significant part of all state work is really delivering services and partnerships within the federal government. Oftentimes there are rules, regulations, gaps between the silos that essentially mean information from one place stays in one place. Some of these rules, such as health privacy information, has very understandable reasons why the regulations are in place. But often this creates redundancy. It means that citizens often have to go to multiple places to receive the same services. We want to make sure that information is shared properly to break down some of those barriers,” said Herckis.

  • Solution in the next 12 months?

“Some of it is just promoting standards such as National Information Exchange Model or NIEM. We can also really mature the identity management area,” said Herckis.

  • Implementation of OMB grant guidance reform – Priority and Solution

“OMB has been working on grant guidance for quite some time. The issue is the way grant guidance is provided to agencies doesn’t reflect modern IT business practices. Right before Christmas, OMB released final grant guidance reform. It included a lot of steps that will allow states to utilize federal money in an effective and efficient way by promoting shared services and building out data centers. It basically moves the conversation about IT, from one where everything has to be physical around IT to treating it more like you would with any large construction project. This will help states better plan and be more strategic with how we use IT. It will also help us being more centralized and efficient when it comes to IT purchasing and use,” said Herckis.

Weekend reads

We know weekend time is precious, so we try to pull some stories throughout the week that are worth your time… and may just plant a seed for new ideas…

  • Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore: 5 Ways I Use Weekends To Be a Better CEO: “I recently asked my connections and followers on LinkedIn how they use their weekends to prepare for the week ahead. Many noted that they use it to get work done ahead of time, catch up on work they didn’t get to during the past week or get away from work altogether. The variety of responses was nice to read, and it forced me to sit back and really reflect on how I use my weekends. What I came to realize is that without thinking about it, I have created a strong weekend routine that allows me to recharge and better prepare for the next week. The list includes rest… and call his mom.

  • FastCompany: How To Cultivate A Creative Thinking Habit: Creativity isn’t a mythical creature to be caught and tamed. It’s a habit, studies suggest; a way of life that’s built over time: Think of your most common habits and the regular culprits come to mind–biting your nails, snacking late at night, cracking your knuckles. Do something enough times and it becomes a behavioral pattern you do almost involuntarily. But what about creativity? Dictionary definitions can be misleading, offering the impression that creativity is something you either possess or don’t. Here’s one: Creativity, “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.” The ability to transcend. Sounds almost mystical. Not so fast. According to research by psychologist and psychometrician Robert Sternberg, at its most basic level, there’s nothing mystical about creative thinking. Like brushing your teeth first-thing every morning or biting your nails or any other regular action your brain is trained to automatically do, creative thinking, Sternberg argues, is a habit.

  • The New York Times: Finding the Right App to Unblock Those Creative Juices

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