In last week’s blog post we looked at the United States’ commitment to combating cyber-risk and were encouraged to see the U.S. ranked second out of 193 countries in terms of highest commitment to cybersecurity (2017 Global Cybersecurity Index).
This commitment is reflected in the Federal Government’s allocation of nearly $15 billion to fund agencies and programs focusing on IT modernization and cybersecurity in Fiscal Year 2019.
But what about the commitment to online initiatives and cybersecurity at the State level? Are states across America just as committed?
Which US State Governors Are Talking Technology and Cybersecurity Initiatives?
Across the nation there is a wide variation in both the level of investment into and degree of emphasis placed on cybersecurity initiatives at the State level. As with any enterprise, modern technology and digital transformation offers innovations and efficiencies that can greatly help federal, state and local governments more effectively deliver on their mission. However, the benefits provided by technology and the digital economy also come with risks. Every enterprise, agency and organization must adequately address cyber risk.
So, which of the nation’s currently elected State Governors are talking about tech, IT modernization, education and innovation?
State of the State Addresses
“State of the State” speeches made by elected governors across the US in January and February of 2018 were reviewed by Government Technology Magazine. Rankings for each State were given on a scale of 0 – 5 stars, with a zero-star rating given for no mention of technology to 5 stars for strong interest and focus on technology matters.
So, which State Governors talked about the need for investment in technology and education? You may be surprised by which States view technology and cybersecurity as a matter of state priority versus the States that don’t.
Different Leaderships, Different Priorities
Government and company agendas are largely driven by leadership priorities. This year is set to be a year of change when it comes to elected state officials. In the U.S. this year, we are poised to see changes in state leadership with 36 states and three U.S. territories having gubernatorial elections in November. Some changes in leadership are guaranteed given that the current governor in 17 out of those 36 states, and one of the territories, is either term-limited or not seeking re-election.
The Gubernatorial Elections are expected to reshape state agendas and priorities, including IT efforts and leadership.
Five Stars For North Dakota
North Dakota was the only U.S. State that received a 5-star rating, placing Gov. Doug Burgum at the top as a leader on the gov tech map. He spoke about the need to embrace digital transformation in the state to offer a more streamlined citizen experience and an intent to strengthen cybersecurity efforts, noting that it is the state government’s duty to protect sensitive citizen information against an average 7.3 million attacks per person per month that the state receives.
A number of technology initiatives mentioned included moving to a more efficient, streamlined state portal to improve the citizen experience, growing use of tools like online driver’s license and registration renewal, GIS tracking, and a Vision Zero initiative to include autonomous vehicles. The Vision Zero initiative, seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all.
While it’s great to see North Dakota at the top with five stars, it is disconcerting that the majority of States make very little to no mention of the importance of technology, cybersecurity and related future initiatives.
Below are the ratings given by Govtech.com for each state, based on the State of the State speeches (where given).
State of the States 2018 – Government Technology’s Ratings
A Duty To Protect Data And Privacy
Government agencies and private organizations can no longer afford to be reactive when it comes to cybersecurity. People in positions of leadership have a duty of care to those they are representing and security must be a priority. In order to protect the safety and privacy of citizens and workers, elected officials, industry leaders, and organizational heads must have a commitment to cybersecurity and need to invest in the necessary tools, technology and user education.
For a full assessment of the speeches made by each State Governor, see the govtech.com article, “State of the States 2018: Broadband, Cybersecurity Surface as Priorities”.