With an announced theme of Lead, Collaborate, and Inspire, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) will hold its midyear conference on May 25-27. Unfortunately – like both of last year’s big conferences – this month’s show will take place virtually, but the group’s annual conference may go in-person this Fall.

Executive Director Doug Robinson and his crack NASCIO staff, along with direction and guidance from state CIOs on the NASCIO program committee, have a few updates to agenda and format of the previous three sessions held under pandemic conditions.

Eschewing the traditional keynotes to kick off each of the three day’s events, NASCIO has planned a different approach, involving not only state CIOs but industry experts, and representatives from the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), as well as the Center for Internet Security (CIS) and the Pew Research Center.

Day one will begin with a “private sector perspectives” panel of corporate leadership from Deloitte, Fortinet and Genesys, moderated by Virginia CIO Nelson Moe. While business entities and government may have different goals, they often face similar challenges. The panel will address those overlapping areas, sharing how their environments have shifted over the past year, how they’ve responded, and how each is moving forward.

Another tradition of recent years – the so-called high speed state CIO roundtables – have also undergone some changes. Instead of the individual states’ hosting groups of 20 or so attendees for 15-20 minute Q&A sessions, three separate panels of three state CIOs each will provide similar opportunities for CIOs and attendees to interact.

Day two will begin with a deep dive into the “broadband imperative” hosted by Tom Curtin, Program Director, Infrastructure, at NGA. The agenda highlights that “the pandemic brought new attention, immediacy and action to the issue of broadband in ways not previously seen. With its necessity on full display, citizens called for its expansion and governors proposed record investments in its infrastructure.” The panel with CIOs from California, Colorado, and Minnesota will explore how state CIOs can support broadband efforts and their projections of what the broadband environment will look like down the road.

Next, cybersecurity will take center stage with a tongue in cheek match game focusing on how to integrate cybersecurity into the acquisition process. The session will pit CIOs and CISOs from North Carolina and Ohio against a celebrity panel of authors from NASCIO, NASPO and CIS who collaborated on the recently released publication, “Buyer Be Aware: Integrating Cybersecurity into the Acquisition Process.”

Lastly, day two will again provide a speed dating approach for attendees to hear directly from three state CIOs on several high priority issues identified in NASCIO’s annual state CIO survey released last fall. Topics will be IT modernization in Vermont, citizen experience in Massachusetts, and identity and access management in Ohio.

Day three will start with a forecasting session, “Projecting to 2025.” Conceding that the last year and a half was abundantly unpredictable, adjusting to new conditions was a paramount objective. Most admit that government will never be the same. What does this mean for the coming years for state government? What role will information technology play and how can states prepare? The panel will includes IT leaders from Texas and Georgia, along with representatives from Deloitte and the Pew Research Center.

Day three’s breakouts will again focus on three NASCIO priority issues including digital services in Arizona, the adaptable workforce in Maine, and the promise of public interest technology in America.

Wrapping up the conference will be panel on “resilience in state government.” As the program agenda describes it, “The agility and resilience of state government was tested this past year. It will be tested again; by natural disasters, cybersecurity incidents, attacks from adversaries, societal changes and pressures currently unseen.” This panel with CIOs from Tennessee and Connecticut plus a representative from IBM Center for The Business of Government will examine how state government can prepare for another black swan event like COVID-19. Can resilience become a part of government’s people, systems and partnerships? And finally, what is the role of IT, and specifically the state CIO?

The conference lineup covers lots of interesting issues and a good selection of state IT and thought leader representation.

Make sure to register and access the conference hub for further details.

A final note. We are all glad to hear that NASCIO currently plans to hold its annual conference “in person” October 10-13, 2021 in Seattle. According NASCIO sources, they will continue to monitor the guidance and regulations from the CDC, the host state ,and the hotel partner to ensure that they can hold a safe in-person meeting. NASCIO expects to have a final decision in early summer.

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John Thomas Flynn
John Thomas Flynn
John Thomas Flynn serves as a senior advisor for government programs at MeriTalk. He was the first CIO for the both the State of California and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was president of NASCIO.