Through the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments adapted to a distributed workforce overnight – requiring IT teams to learn how to move their services forward, efficiently and securely.

With tax and public revenue down, the challenges associated with providing uninterrupted support – without sacrificing security or increasing costs – are only amplified. A recent survey from the National League of Cities noted that cities can expect a 13 percent decline in general fund revenues in the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund, established by The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), appropriates $150 billion to state, local, and tribal governments to facilitate improved telework capabilities. This includes making technological improvements.

Though the funds do not reverse pandemic-related losses in public revenue, they offer the chance to strategically secure and transform remote work in the states.

New Times Call for New Technology

States recognize the need to eliminate outdated technology and processes. Minnesota’s City of Alexandria plans to invest most of $1.05 million received from the CARES Act to upgrade technology for employees working from home.

In Ohio, Summit County approved a $6.5 million CARES Act-funded grant to the City of Fairlawn to expand FairlawnGig, a municipal broadband utility that will create a secure network to enable remote municipal meetings and court proceedings.

By eliminating outdated technology and processes, there is a significant potential for cost savings and an opportunity to drive long-term efficiency. Agencies can extend these savings on an ongoing basis by also consolidating services and centralizing operations.

Teams can combine similar tools or eliminate tools they no longer need, securing endpoints onto a single console and saving on costs associated with licensing, upgrades, maintenance, and support. Many times, these upgrades increase security measures as well.

Securing the Distributed Environment

The growth of remote work has exponentially expanded the cyberattack surface. IT operations and security teams must be unified against one of the most challenging issues they face in this new normal – effectively managing security, compliance, and performance in a distributed environment.

This challenge can’t be solved with disjointed solutions, by following policies and procedures that worked in the past, or by asking overstretched internal teams to simply do more. State and local governments must rethink how IT administrators manage and secure operational environments.

Teams must mature their infrastructure with investments in approaches that achieve security and visibility, and:

  • Provide end-to-end visibility into the new, borderless, operational environment;
  • Monitor and manage endpoint usage, performance, and security in real-time without concern for where the endpoint resides;
  • Monitor and manage distributed workforce infrastructure, software deployments, and patching;
  • Manage existing centralized infrastructure;
  • Enforce policy and maintain fundamental cyber hygiene; and
  • Account for and help protect the type, location, and state of protected data now residing outside the perimeter of the enterprise local area network (LAN)

This architecture is particularly beneficial for states or large municipalities that need to provide rural communities and smaller municipalities with the infrastructure necessary to address remote work. Smaller organizations can utilize a consolidated and secure, remote platform that meets their functional needs without the on-premise infrastructures required by larger institutions.

Likewise, these updates give agencies the choice to deploy new operations and security capabilities in hours, providing unparalleled visibility and control over their enterprise.

Future-Proof the Workplace and Classroom

Governments need greater visibility to drive IT cost efficiencies and improve business value. State and local IT teams should look to trade older tools and narrow platforms for solutions that allow accurate, real-time access to data and unmatched security.

Not only will teams see reduced operating costs and streamlined administration and infrastructure, they will create a modern environment with minimized disruption for future success. America will only progress as much as state and local governments do. Getting a successful IT and security strategy is not easy, but is vital for the future of work for all of us.

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Gary Buonacorsi
Gary Buonacorsi is the Chief IT Architect and SLED Chief Technology Officer at Tanium.