US state CIOs rocked by COVID-19

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 16 October, 2020

US state CIOs rocked by COVID-19

US state CIOs faced significant impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but were able to respond with stability, resiliency and flexibility, according to the US National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO).

The association’s latest State CIO Survey found that COVID-19 affected state CIO experiences in nearly every area covered by the annual survey.

The survey found that state CIOs were caught off guard by the pandemic, with many expressing regret that they had not reviewed and updated their continuity of operations and disaster recovery plans more frequently prior to the pandemic.

As with most of the rest of the world, US state governments were meanwhile forced to significantly expand their adoption of working from home policies and practices, in a move that all state CIOs agreed will likely have significant and long-lasting changes to government and their workforce.

The pandemic has also driven home the importance of establishing more efficient and widespread digital services, with almost all respondents agreeing that improving the online experience for citizens was the number one priority.

Meanwhile, 65% of respondents reported that these digital efforts are having a positive impact, but a further 30% said it is too early to tell.

CIOs also ranked investment in expanding broadband infrastructure as one of the top five areas expected to change the most as a result of COVID, and 81% of respondents said that their states will now accelerate the implementation of their broadband strategies in light of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has also driven an increase in the adoption of automation technologies. The survey found that 76% of respondents first introduced chatbots in response to COVID-19, with 53% first introducing mobile apps for contact tracing and 40% debuting voicebots for their call centre operations.

“State CIOs have certainly faced new challenges in 2020,” NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson commented.

“Their experiences will inform how state IT operates — from changing business models to digital government to disaster recovery and business continuity — for the near and long term.”

The survey meanwhile found that 41% of state CIOs report that their government has a cloud first strategy in place, and a further 21% encourage agencies to leverage the cloud.

Cybersecurity remains at the top of state CIO priorities. In addition, 33% of state governments have implemented enterprise-wide data privacy policies, with 26% having an implementation in process.

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