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Florida's going to overhaul its IT agency again

Remember less than a year ago, when Florida disbanded its technology agency and placed IT governance under a telecommunications office inside the state's Department of Management Services? Well, the Sunshine State is poised to shake things up again with the Florida legislature's recent unanimous passage of a bill that would do away with the Division of State Technology, the current incarnation of an IT shop that was created last July when Gov. Ron DeSantis did away with the  Agency for State Technology, an independent entity that had only been created in 2014. The new bill, which DeSantis is likely to sign, would create a new Florida Digital Service, responsible for data governance, cybersecurity and development of new technologies under the leadership of a statewide chief information officer, a role that has shuffled between interim leaders since early 2019. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Google builds website for a government — for real

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that he’s simultaneously managing stresses to the state’s health care system and mitigating threats to an economy increasingly composed of unemployed residents. In New York, as in many other states, this has largely meant ensuring that the government’s aging computer systems can withstand the barrage of applications for unemployment benefits. Cuomo said that the state's Labor Department, which has logged more than 810,000 new unemployment claims since March 9, worked with Google this week to launch a new website to handle the surge in requests for economic assistance. Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said that as many as 200,000 of those applications had gone unprocessed because of overwhelmed computer systems and a shortage of operators at call centers. “Look, the technology at the Department of Labor, the system just crashed because of the volume,” Cuomo said. The new site went live at 7 p.m. Thursday. Colin Wood has more.

Federal agencies launch innovation challenge for local governments

A group of federal agencies and nonprofits announced on Wednesday that they’re financing and directing a $9 million civic innovation challenge this year to develop data-driven housing, mobility and resiliency solutions for local governments. The National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security will fund the Civic Innovation Challenge, which will distribute awards of up to $1 million to teams composed of state and local officials and technologists. The competition is designed to promote solutions that helped communities improve their public transportation and resilience to natural disasters, but the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic has shifted local government priorities. Now, the challenge will ask communities to strategize beyond the health crisis, when public institutions will need to be rebuilt and reimagined. Ryan Johnston reports.

Experts: Internet voting isn’t ready for pandemic

While the COVID-19 health crisis doesn’t present an excuse to postpone the general election in November, it's likely that things won't be back to an environment where voters can confidently go to their polling places, Brett Winterford of the security podcast Risky Business writes in a column for CyberScoop. States retain the autonomy to make the preparations they each deem necessary, as officials face the daunting task of upholding the most essential function of democracy in the midst of a health pandemic that constrains the movement and assembly of people in public spaces. But as officials make their preparations to make sure the election goes forward, the cybersecurity community is vocal that internet voting is not an acceptable option. In the first of two articles, Winterford spoke with multiple experts who said that even in the midst of a crisis, there are too many issues to solve and not enough time to do so. Read more.

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