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Coronavirus forces NASCIO to cancel midyear conference

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers on Tuesday canceled its midyear conference in response to the ongoing pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. The event, which typically attracts between 400 and 600 government technology officials, trade association representatives, vendors and other guests, had been scheduled to take place from May 3-5 at a hotel in National Harbor, Maryland. NASCIO acknowledged an advisory Sunday from the Centers for Disease Control recommending that gatherings of more than 50 people be canceled for at least eight weeks, as health officials attempt to mitigate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus. The conference is the latest event to be canceled because of the coronavirus’ spread. The National Association of State Technology Directors and Code for America previously called off their events, as did South by Southwest, the annual technology, film and music conference that draws hundreds of thousands of people to Austin, Texas, every March. Several education-sector tech conferences have also been scrubbed.   Benjamin Freed reports.

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Times are bleak. @NJGov isn't

The New Jersey state government’s main Twitter account, @NJGov, gained notoriety last year as one of the first government-run social media accounts to tweet with the same irreverence and sassiness usually reserved for online comics or attention-seeking brands. But as the novel coronavirus continues to spread rapidly — including 267 confirmed cases in New Jersey, according to the state Department of Health — the staffers behind @NJGov say the account is well-suited to mix humor with life-saving information. “In an emergency like the one we find ourselves in right now, that ethos really shines through because we’re providing New Jerseyans with critical information, but also providing much needed humor and light,” Megan Coyne, a digital communications aide to Gov. Phil Murphy and one of the account's authors, wrote in an email to StateScoop. Don't forget to wipe down your phone.

Los Angeles migrates mainframe to California's data center

The City of Los Angeles last month became the first local government in California to have its mainframe applications migrated to the state’s data center in Sacramento. The three-year, $10.5 million deal marks a shift in the capabilities and resources of state and local governments, as the staff required to run mainframe systems become more scarce and the prospect of running ever-fewer legacy applications on the large, expensive systems grows less viable. “We have a strong mainframe workforce here,” said Veronica Gilliard, deputy director of platform services for the California Department of Technology. “We’ve developed the staff, we have an internal mainframe program, we’ve developed to maintain that workforce so knowing that we have a heavy concentration, it was a good fit for them.” Colin Wood reports.

Ohio says collaboration fixed its business portal

A website operated by the State of Ohio to help businesses file their taxes is working much better now after widespread complaints prompted a series of upgrades to a system long characterized by service delays and bugs, officials said. The Ohio Business Gateway allows businesses in the state to file their kilowatt-hour taxes and motor-fuel taxes, or complete paperwork online for about 20 other government services. And while the website’s launch many years ago put Ohio “at the forefront of this digital outreach,” Ohio Chief Information Officer Ervan Rodgers said, it also brought in many complaints from users who said the website wasn’t working as intended as they waited for service. Ultimately, the system was under-performing, which means it was getting crushed and we had to focus our efforts and attention this last year on trying to figure out a creative way from an innovation standpoint to improve the customer experience for our end-users,” Rodgers said. Colin has more.

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