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Cybersecurity grants could wind up in defense bill

None of the state and local aid in the $3 trillion rescue package House Democrats introduced this week is <a href="https://preprod.statescoop.com/1-trillion-state-local-government-relief-bill-no-specific-it-funding/">targeted specifically toward IT or cybersecurity</a>, and the bill itself is likely to hit a dead end with the Republican-controlled Senate and White House. But Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said on a webcast yesterday that a new grant program supporting state and local cybersecurity efforts could wind up as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, a "must-pass" bill that Congress approves every year. "That’s the most likely vehicle," he said. State IT cybersecurity officials say help is needed, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic runs government coffers dry. "It looks like it’s going to be precarious for a couple of years,” Michigan CISO Chris DeRusha said. "The money is the issue and it’s just going to continue to be." Benjamin Freed reports.

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California names leader of new digital innovation office

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday hired Udaya Patnaik, a former business management consultant, as the inaugural director of the state's new Office of Digital Innovation. Patnaik will be tasked with helping state agencies develop front-end digital services that state residents interact with on a daily basis, like the new CA.gov website. Newsom created the office last June, replacing another agency within the California Department of Technology that went by the same name and was subsequently rebranded as the Office of Enterprise Technology. One of Patnaik’s first priorities as the director of the Office of Digital Innovation will be to deliver a new, user-centric state website. Ryan Johnston reports.

Rural governments still struggle adapting to pandemic mode

Slow internet connections, poor preparation and a shortage of useful training and knowledge have exacerbated the issues facing local governments as they try to provide services remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, IT officials said in a webinar on Thursday. Laurel Caldwell, the technology director for Latah County, Idaho — population 37,000 — said that many employees of the county government working from home, especially those who live in rural areas, are struggling to use home internet connections to complete their work. Everyone's also learning how to use new tools like online video-conferencing platforms, and Caldwell's no exception. “I might be the IT guru, but I’m not when it comes to trying to learn everything all at once," she said. Colin Wood has details.

Austin, Texas, names new cybersecurity chief

Austin, Texas, this week hired Shirley Erp, the former chief information security officer of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, as city’s CISO. Erp, who spent five years overseeing cybersecurity at the state’s HHS Commission and most recently consulted on cybersecurity with the professional services firm KPMG, will be in charge of protecting the city’s data and network infrastructure from within the city’s information security office. She begins in the new role July 1. Ryan has more.

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