I just wrapped up an incredible three days at the National Association of State CIO’s (NASCIO) Annual Conference. The event is the largest gathering of state government IT in the country. I loved getting to hear best practices, discuss challenges, and swap stories with the best and brightest minds across all 50 states. I know not everyone was as lucky as I was to travel to Orlando for the conference this year, but I wanted to share some of my takeaways from the speakers, sessions, and networking I partook in.

One thing I can’t stress enough is the importance of the CIO. For those of us on the industry, nonprofit, or academic side, NASCIO’s Annual Conference gives us a peek into the life of a state government CIO. They are the ones driving real transformation across all departments and are the unsung heroes of government digital transformation. These CIOs are navigating a very complex environment, having to support such diverse businesses as Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Transportation. As the former Colorado State CIO, the benefits these CIOs have been able to realize through digital transformation, even in the complex environment they are in, is incredible!

Another big trend that I heard over and over in Orlando is that states are accelerating their shift from the traditional model where they provide all services to a facilitator model – that is, “IT as a Broker”. The new thought process is to stick with what they do well – supporting all of their different lines of business – while using a combination of shared services, cloud and managed services from the private sector when an industry partner is more efficient at providing them.

I think it will come as no surprise that cybersecurity was a big topic of conversation at NASCIO 2016. In the NASCIO survey, “The Adaptable State CIO”, 83% of CIOs responded that only 1-2% of their IT workforce is focused on cybersecurity, which is an increasing concern at all levels of government. While most state government officials are more aware of the risks posed by cyber threats than in the past, there is significant competition for tight budget dollars and unfortunately, funding IT often takes a back seat.  This is an opportunity to educate key decision makers in the legislature and executive branch on the importance of cyber and for industry to play a key role in combating these threats.

Many CIOs are also concerned with some of the more government-focused parts of their roles – in particular, procurement and budgets. State CIOs have made significant progress is moving IT from the backroom to the boardroom over the past five years. Now, the next drive is to bring it to the capitol and work with legislators who prepare the budget for the city or state. Educating these elected officials on the importance of digital transformation in government is critical if the budgets for protecting state assets and data is to be funded.

Lastly, while cities have been adopting IoT rapidly, most states are just beginning to investigate how IoT will impact state processes, infrastructure and cybersecurity practices. This is a particularly exciting time, and I look forward to seeing how states implement some of these digital government tools on a larger scale for even greater impact.

Overall, I had a great time learning from state and local government experts and am already looking forward to next year’s NASICO Annual Conference! You can see more highlights from the event on my Twitter account, @LeahELewis, or on Cisco’s U.S. State & Local Government Twitter account, @CiscoStateLocal.


Leah Lewis


Public Sector Consulting Services