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Cybersecurity and Data Loss Prevention Top List of Key Priorities for Local Government Tech Leaders in New Survey

May 19, 2020, 13:00 PM

Washington, D.C. –New urgencies in cybersecurity and data loss prevention dominate local and county government technology leaders daily concerns with 93% of respondents reporting its their top priority over the next two years, according to the “2020 State of City and County IT National Survey,” an annual report on city and county technology and workforce trends released today by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Public Technology Institute (PTI).

At 68%, for the first time, innovation and application technologies took the number two spot of key priorities when asked to rank IT initiatives through 2022, while modernization of outdated IT systems and applications ranked third at 55%.

“Given the rise of ransomware attacks at the local level in 2019 and into 2020 it is understandable that cybersecurity continues to remain the number one concern of local government CIOs,” said Dr. Alan Shark, Executive Director of PTI.

Among specific areas for improving their cybersecurity posture, 70% of responses identified security awareness training for staff as the highest priority. Other highest-priority measures for cybersecurity improvement among city and county IT professionals included modernizing defenses to account for cloud security, fostering a security mindset across all facets of city and county government, adopting a cybersecurity framework based on national standards, and updating policies such as ransomware to better address the changing threat landscape.

“Local government CIOs are also looking for ways to go beyond simply maintaining and safeguarding their networks by adding new and emerging technologies to their toolbox such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, 5G, drones, and even augmented and virtual reality, to help solve problems,” Shark continued. “At the same time, skills training in areas of emerging technologies and the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity continue to be an essential component of an effective IT workforce.”

When asked to rank the importance of technology and skills training for their departments, 80% of respondents cited cybersecurity training as the top requirement, followed by improving the user experience with IT support and better understanding of network infrastructure and systems reliability and performance.

City and county CIOs also continue to redefine their cloud computing strategies to increase efficient operation and management of their IT infrastructure, with 62% of responses indicating local governments have implemented new cloud applications.

New to the survey, questions on local-state and cross-jurisdiction collaboration and IT procurement were included.  While nearly half – 49% – of respondents characterized their jurisdictional relationship with the state CIO as non-existent, top collaboration opportunities cited by respondents included cybersecurity assistance and aligned of cybersecurity strategies (83%) and procurement purchasing and acquisition (53%).

Shark added, “While many city and county CIOs indicated they could identify many potential opportunities and saw clear value in collaboration between one another and their state counterparts, the reality is in most cases there are no relationships in place. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted IT operations and management to be more essential than ever in supporting critical public health services and delivering smart government systems. Going forward, it is likely that the we see the trend towards greater cross-jurisdictional and local-state collaboration accelerate.”

Expanded upon this year, the 2020 study was divided into six sections: Key Priorities and Investment Outlook, Operational Efficiency and Infrastructure Management, Cybersecurity and Data Loss Prevention, Workforce and Training, Smart cities and Counties and Emerging Tech, and Inter and Intra-Government Relationships.

Conducted in the beginning of 2020, the report data serves as an accurate snapshot through the first two-months of the year, prior to the COVID-10 pandemic, which severely affected local government operations and service delivery. The study consisted of an online survey fielded to a sample of U.S. CIOs, CTOs, and related staff with technology responsibility within local and county government. A total of 102 respondents participated in some facet of the survey. To supplement the quantitative survey data, qualitative insights in the form of interviews and commentary were also included from a segment of respondents.

About PTI
Established in 1971 by several major national associations representing state and local governments and now powered by CompTIA, the Public Technology Institute (PTI) has been viewed as the focal point for thought leaders who have a passion for the furtherance and wise deployment of technology. PTI actively supports local government officials through research, education, professional development, executive-level consulting services, and national recognition programs.

About CompTIA
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the more than 50 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. Through education, training, certifications, advocacy, philanthropy, and market research, CompTIA is the hub for advancing the tech industry and its workforce. Visit www.comptia.org to learn more.