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Priorities by pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that upended 2020 weighed heavily on the agendas that state chief information officers will pursue in 2021, according to the list of priorities that NASCIO released yesterday. While cybersecurity again leads the annual top-ten list for the eighth consecutive year, the remaining nine slots reflect a shakeup necessitated by the health crisis, the group's leaders said. Digital government, cloud services and broadband — all of which have become even more important during the pandemic — rounded out the top four slots on the list, while budgetary concerns also shot up.   Benjamin Freed reports.

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Arkansas names new CTO

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday named Jonathan Askins, a longtime director with the data connectivity software firm Acxiom, as the state’s new chief technology officer and head of its Division of Technology Services. “In his career, he has been a team builder, a business developer, a problem solver, and a crisis manager,” the governor said of Askins, who fills a vacancy created by the resignation last month of Yessica Jones. Ben has the story.

CCPA's top cop is leaving

With President-elect Joe Biden picking California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services, the state's landmark internet privacy act will be losing its chief enforcer. But consumer technology advocates said they are confident Gov. Gavin Newsom will pick a replacement who will also make sure the law is implemented. "I’m confident that Gov. Newsom is going to appoint an AG to replace Xavier who will be a strong supporter and enforcer of the CCPA," said James Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media. Ryan Johnston has more.

Health crisis pushed GIS to the forefront

For state government leaders charged with using geographic information systems, the COVID-19 pandemic brought their work to the forefront in a way unlike ever before. “It’s pretty clear that GIS has been front page news for almost a year now,” Frank Winters, New York State’s geographic information officer, says on a new episode of the GIS Addressed podcast. “Alone that has had an impact, and really, across the country, there’s this underlying sense that the whole geospatial community can take an even more impactful role."   Listen to the podcast.

Will Congress ever fund state and local cybersecurity grants?

A $400 million state and local cybersecurity grant program sought by NASCIO members and others passed the House in 2020, but got stuck in the Senate. But in that mire, the online threats to state and local government have only grown, with ransomware continuing to threaten small towns and school districts, and the pandemic's remote-work and distance-learning booms greatly expanding the potential attack surface that information security officials need to protect. The push continues in 2021. "We’ll continue to advocate," New Hampshire and NASCIO President CIO Denis Goulet said. Read more from Ben.

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