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'We really need a grant program'

A group of state and local officials told members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee last Thursday they’re very interested in dedicated cybersecurity grants to support their agencies, even as the prospects for such a program remain unclear. “We really need a grant program,” said Steve Schewel, the mayor of Durham, North Carolina. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who's championed the creation of a new grant program, told StateScoop she’s having “productive” conversations with her colleagues in search of bipartisan support, but shared few details on how those talks have progressed. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Georgia's got a new CIO

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday announced the appointment of Shawnzia Thomas, assistant deputy commissioner for the human services department, as the state’s new CIO and executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority. Thomas, who’s worked for the Georgia state government for the last 13 years, replaces Calvin Rhodes, who was the nation’s longest standing statewide CIO when he stepped down this month after more than 10 years in the job. Colin Wood has more.

National speed test shows gaps

A new map from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows gaps in broadband performance by census tract and county nationwide, using data on download speeds and access to devices. The map is designed to be an illustration of the gaps that state and local officials are looking to close in broadband access. “Any effort to close the digital divide starts with solid data, and the NTIA continues to help policymakers make more informed decisions on expanding broadband access,” acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley said in a press release. Emily Bamforth has details.

Psst, you can use COVID funds on cyber

Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, expressed concern Thursday that the U.S. Education Department hasn't communicated effectively to K-12 schools that they can spend federal pandemic relief money on cybersecurity, especially as ransomware attacks against districts nationwide continue to run rampant and many school systems plan for some degree of long-term virtual learning. In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Warner and Collins wrote that the department should issue clearer guidance that the programs established in multiple rounds of federal COVID-19 relief can be used to harden and protect vulnerable networks. Ben has more on EdScoop.

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