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California's unemployment agency was 'reactive,' says strike team

An investigative team commissioned earlier this year by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to investigate the failure of the state's unemployment system to process claims during the COVID-19 pandemic released its findings yesterday. The team, which was led by Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka, found that the Employment Development Department lacked key digital tools, like an automatic system for verifying the identity of claimants or a data-driven dashboard, and relied on a “reactive” and inefficient system to detect fraudulent claims, leading to a backlog that continues growing by more than 10,000 claims each day. The team included several recommendations, including a two-week "reset," in which the department pays out its existing unfilled claims before accepting new applications. Ryan Johnston has more.

A Message From AWS Educate

With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

For ransomware, Texas partners with FireEye

The Texas Department of Information Resources on Friday entered into a bulk-purchasing agreement with cybersecurity firm FireEye to beef up public-sector organizations’ cyber defenses at both the state and local levels, with preventing ransomware attacks a priority of the deal. Texas’ statewide agencies and local government entities, including school districts, will be able to purchase the security services offered by FireEye and its Mandiant subsidiary at deep discounts. The deal follows an August 2019 ransomware attack against a managed service provider that ended up affecting more than 20 local governments — and continued pressure from bad actors this year. Benjamin Freed has more.

Are we ready for November?

With disinformation campaigns about ballots and candidates flying, fresh warnings about foreign adversaries trying to access voter registration databases and people already starting to vote in several states, election officials face an imposing threat landscape heading toward Nov. 3. In a new episode of StateScoop's Priorities podcast, Ben Spear, director of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and Spencer Wood, chief information officer to the Ohio secretary of state's office, discuss the work they’ve been doing to prepare for the election. The podcast is part of a larger StateScoop and EdScoop special report on election security. Colin Wood hosts.

Meet the winners of the 2020 StateScoop 50 Awards

Now in their seventh year, the StateScoop 50 awards honor the projects and people driving state government technology and cybersecurity. Members of the state and local IT community nominated thousands of leaders and projects for the awards. The winners represent more than a dozen states and eight companies, ranging from elected officials like Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to young up-and-coming professionals. And while we can't gather in person this year, many of the winners will be featured in a new podcast miniseries hosted by StateScoop Technology Editor Benjamin Freed. See all the winners.


Agencies push to a new normal with the power of AI

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are playing a critical role in how government provides public support during the pandemic. However, AI implementation remains unfamiliar territory for many government leaders. Having the right partners at the table is an important factor driving more meaningful outcomes and long-term benefits to the public, at scale. Read more from IT leaders.

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