Apr 23 2024

Agencies Win Big with Specific Applications of Staff Augmentation

State and local governments enlist outside expertise to gain competencies in the latest innovations.

State CISOs face a long process to hire staff, which gives competitors “a better shot at hiring the best talent,” according to the most recent cybersecurity study from Deloitte and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

To fill positions, states often rely on staff augmentation, calling on contract employees to fulfill specific functions. Reliance on managed security providers increased from 2020 to 2022, Deloitte and NASCIO note. In 2020, 51 percent of survey respondents said they contracted with a managed security service provider; in 2022, the figure was 78 percent.

The report adds, “Management of third-party vendors is maturing, as CISOs rely on them more to provide not only securities operations center functions, but also forensic and legal support and cyberthreat risk assessments.” CISOs have more confidence in the cybersecurity practices of contractors than other third parties such as local governments and higher education.

The technology marketplace has reached a point where it produces innovations faster than state and local governments can incorporate them into their operations. State and local agencies risk losing ground in this landscape. Public sector organizations must capitalize on private sector expertise in these matters and also examine the use of artificial intelligence to augment the government workforce.

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AI Use Cases Can Augment Existing Staff

In a column for Government Technology, Washoe County, Nev., CIO Behzad Zamanian argues that government agencies can best make use of emerging technology through AI.

“Every new technology changes people’s job functions, and AI will definitely have a major impact on changing how most people work. Investing in training programs, workshops and educational initiatives can help develop the necessary skills among government employees. This may involve reskilling existing staff, hiring data scientists and AI specialists, and providing opportunities for continuous learning,” Zamanian writes.

Many managed service providers use AI to keep track of and defend against cyberattacks, as do roughly a third of other organizations, according to a Gartner survey. Public Technology Institute Executive Director Alan Shark tells Route Fifty that local governments will continue to outsource cybersecurity services specifically.

“We just don’t have enough expertise. AI is particularly good at detecting … anomalies, patterns and trends,” Shark says.

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Streamlining Workflows Can Address Skills Shortage

The Council of State Governments notes that AI can simplify workflows and act as a force multiplier for government employees.

“Although private sector uses of AI garner much attention, these systems are also used by the public sector to streamline service provision and support public officials. AI systems are commonly used in fields such as law enforcement, elections, transportation, public finance and government administration,” the council notes in a blog post.

In a LinkedIn column, Chris Chiancone, CIO of Carrollton, Texas, writes, “By automating repetitive tasks and streamlining workflows, AI technology enables government agencies to allocate their resources more effectively, ultimately leading to improved service delivery for citizens.”

At least one powerful example of this surfaced at the NASCIO 2023 Annual Conference in a panel with James Tanzosch, chief IT procurement officer for North Carolina. Tanzosch said that he applied AI automation to the state’s workforce processes, reducing a typical procurement cycle from 360 days to 120 days.

DISCOVER: Strengthen your security with cost-effective training.

Training Assistance Can Upskills Cybersecurity Workforce

How can agencies best integrate external resources for cybersecurity? Many states have used funding from the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program to provide local governments with shared services such as training to boost skills.

CISOs often hire managed security service providers for training to gain knowledge on and insights into the latest and greatest private sector innovations.

In the 2022 Deloitte–NASCIO Cybersecurity Study, hiring managed service providers to train staff who are developing specific competencies was virtually universal among survey respondents: 97 percent said that they plan to hire external experts to close competencies through training.

Whether hiring managed service providers to run security operations or to train staff, state and local governments clearly rely on staff augmentation to meet mission requirements. Governments also can call upon such expertise to integrate AI into their workflows.

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