May 24 2021

NASCIO 2021: State IT Leaders to Gather Virtually Once Again for Midyear Symposium

Speakers will draw upon lessons learned over the past year to improve citizen services in the future.

The top IT officials of all U.S. states and territories will gather virtually for the second year in a row for the annual midyear conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, running from May 25 to 27.

NASCIO will coordinate the conference online from its headquarters in Lexington, Ky., with presentations and breakout sessions led by state CIOs from their homes and offices, covering pertinent topics such as cybersecurity, identity management and IT modernization.

While state CIOs undoubtedly will share best practices for what has worked for their governments over the past year or so, NASCIO Program and Brand Director Emily Lane emphasizes the program’s focus on the future.

“This is not a conference giving a rundown of what has occurred in the past,” Lane says. “Of course, we will talk about the lessons learned, but we aim to capitalize on them and project into the future. So, the sessions are really centered on that forward motion. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to have conversations where COVID-19 doesn’t come up, but that really isn’t the focus. How do we now, at this point, move forward?”

NASCIO Director of Policy and Research Meredith Ward elaborates: “Everyone’s looking for the silver lining from the pandemic. The experience has been so grueling for everyone, and CIOs are no exception. While being respectful of the tragedy, CIOs really want to know how to move forward. Digital transformation is a huge issue. We have a lot of discussions on the agenda that really speak to that, whether it’s identity and access management with verifying qualified citizen access to services or legacy modernization to support new services.”

MORE FROM STATETECH: Follow our full coverage of the NASCIO 2021 conferences.

Online Conference Will Focus on CIO Priorities

Over the three-day conference, state CIOs will lead nine breakout sessions. On Tuesday, sessions largely focus on getting to know new state CIOs. On Wednesday and Thursday, topics turn to professional priorities. “The citizen experience is at the core of all of the discussions,” Lane says, referencing the shared goal of sustaining and expanding ease of accessing services.

Lane highlights a session on the final day, “Projecting to 2025,” as a particularly exciting discussion for NASCIO members. Amanda Crawford, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources, will lead the session with support from Georgia CTO Steve Nichols; Bill Eggers, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights; and Lee Rainie, Director of Internet and Technology Research for the Pew Research Center.

“It’ll be a casual discussion about trends they see through 2025, and how there are some divisive things on the horizon but also some very positive things. We will get the perspective of NASCIO members on these trends. That’ll be a really interesting session,” Lane says.

All virtual sessions will be available on demand to registered attendees for a limited time (roughly June 3 to July 6) via the NASCIO conference hub after the symposium. Nonmembers are able to participate in the resource center of the conference hub during the program but cannot access the breakout sessions.

The NASCIO Annual Conference, scheduled for Oct. 10-13 in Seattle, may well represent a return to meeting in person. “We’re certainly optimistic about it, but of course we will consider the bigger picture,” Lane says.

Conferees Seek to Build Capabilities to Move Forward

Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers, often a prominent speaker at the association’s conferences, tells StateTech he’s looking forward to the discussions. On Wednesday, he leads a session on identity and access management.

“My NASCIO colleagues are like family,” Rodgers says. “They bring such a wealth of knowledge and I am looking forward to networking with, and learning from, my peers and vendor partners. 

“My hope post-pandemic is that we’ll find a way to adopt our speed-to-market efficiencies gained in our collective COVID response efforts,” he adds. For example, here in Ohio, we were able to stand up our vaccine management solution in three weeks, including all aspects within the appropriate regulations. While I’m fully in favor of moving away from the COVID seven-day work week schedule and returning back to a five-day work week, I plan to continue incorporating these speed-to-market best practices.”

Check out more coverage from the NASCIO 2021 Midyear Conference, and follow us on Twitter at @StateTech, or the official conference Twitter account, @NASCIO,  and join the conversation using the hashtag #NASCIO21.

Getty Images / guvendemir

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