NASCIO and PTI officials say budgets will drive tech decisions in 2010

During a webinar Thursday, NASCIO president and Utah State CIO Steven Fletcher joined Public Technology Institute (PTI) executive director Alan Shark to map the state and local government technology landscape of 2010. Both experts underscored the importance of technologies that can save money and enhance service delivery given the economic realities facing nearly every state government.

Technologies that help deal with hiring freezes, budget reductions, security control and energy efficiency will rule state-level initiatives in 2010, Fletcher said. Many states are looking at data center consolidation to address all four of those issues. “It’s a useful tool in terms of managing personnel and managing enterprise services, it reduces costs and simplifies the network,” Fletcher said. “[Consolidation] is one of those rare initiatives where you can reduce costs and provide better services.”

Other technologies that, in one way or another, reduce overhead and maintain service levels are due to see increased use, according to Fletcher. Virtualization, cloud computing, and business intelligence / business analytics technologies are among the types of solutions Fletcher believes will gain more traction in 2010. Indeed his own state of Utah is looking to set the bar for cloud computing practices by providing a private cloud environment for other levels of government in his state. He said some states have “addressed the issues of security, access and ownership, so you’re seeing a lot of folks starting to get into cloud computing and SaaS because there are very interesting possibilities for cost reduction and balancing the budget.”

PTI’s Alan Shark focused on county and city-level government technology and he echoed many of Fletcher’s assessment, adding that the digital infrastructure of local government was going to be another focus point for investment. Technology that can address broadband capacity, e-mail and emergency communications networks will be important in 2010, Shark indicated. “Technology must piggyback on infrastructure,” he said.

Still, budgets will continue to be a central focus for all parts of state and local governments, the two signified. Both voiced urgency in finding solutions and using smart technology to address challenges, as the sun begins to fade on Recovery Act dollars towards the end of the year.

“States are finding once you’ve taken all the fat out…what’s going to be taken out next is employees, activities and programs,” Fletcher said. “That’s the challenge that each state faces this year”

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