This Month's State and Local Government IT Developments

Clinton 2000 Budget Pours Millions into Civic Technology

The White House's fiscal 2000 budget underscored several programs that rely heavily on technology spending, with community "smart growth" programs, high-tech crime-fighting and education technology programs the clear winners. Clinton proposed adding $39.5 million to a federal geographic information system funding program to underwrite applications for better land use. The budget also renews the U.S. Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services program, devoting $1.28 billion to the new "21st century policing initiative." The technology centerpiece of that program is a $350 million measure to establish a program to fund interoperability, public safety and crime-fighting technologies. The U.S. Education Department's Technology Literacy Challenge Fund is earmarked at $450 million, $25 million more than last year, to help schools integrate technology into the curriculum and to fund teacher technology training.

Y2K Watch: States Color-Code Y2K Progress

Virginia's Century Date Change Initiative office is using a Web-enabled application to track Year 2000 progress. All 126 state agencies use a CDCI executive information system with secure Internet access to file monthly reports. CDCI analyzes those results and churns data into monthly "stop light" reports that state residents can check at www.cdci.state.va.us. A green light indicates that an agency has met all its Year 2000 milestones. Yellow indicates 85 percent or more of its milestones, and a red light indicates less than 85 percent. Oregon also has launched a public Web site and color-coded its Year 2000 progress (y2k.das.state.or.us/home.htm).

PTI Offers Options to Small Governments

Local governments that are behind in their Year 2000 efforts and strapped for resources can turn to Public Technology Inc., which announced recently that it will offer new services to help jurisdictions struggling to beat the clock. PTI-the technology arm of the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the International City/County Managers Association-is allowing local governments to download from its World Wide Web site (pti.nw.dc.us) a list of Year 2000 products and services PTI has prequalified. To swiftly finance Year 2000 efforts, local governments also will be able to use a national lease and financing program through the National Association of Counties' Financial Services Center. The financing program will cover local governments' hardware, software and services needs.

E-Rate Again Under Fire

Three congressmen launched a fresh attack on the Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate program, calling it a "backdoor tax" that should be abolished. In a Jan. 26 letter to House of Representative members, Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) urged support for legislation that would do away with the program. Tancredo said in the letter, "While no one can argue that such technological advancement is a worthwhile goal, we take great exception to the fact that this would be accomplished through another tax on the American people."

Digital Signature Contract Open to State and Local

The U.S. General Services Administration plans to let state and local governments use a new federal contract for digital signatures.

The Access Certificates for Electronic Services contract is intended to provide a commercial off-the-shelf solution to form part of the public-key infrastructure for electronic government. The digital certificates will verify the identities of people doing electronic business with the government, according to David Temoshok, team leader for Access America at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy electronic-commerce program.

For example, federal officials want state and local governments to use the contract to insert security measures into the food stamp program run by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Local governments would need to be able to accept digital certificates when food stamps are distributed to securely update personal information that determines benefits.

CIO Guard Changes in Pennsylvania, Colorado

Charlie Gerhards recently took over as Pennsylvania's chief information officer, replacing Larry Olson, who has moved to the private sector after serving as the state's first CIO. Gerhards was director of the Commonwealth Technology Center. Colorado also has made changes in the state's technology leadership. Steve McNally, director of Colorado's Commission on Information Management, will leave his position to become the CIO for the state's Labor and Employment Department. Brian Mouty, the state's Year 2000 proj-ect coordinator, has stepped in as acting CIO. Meanwhile, Iowa and Nebraska are poised to appoint their first-ever permanent CIOs. The Nebraska legislature created the CIO post last spring, and Steve Schafer is serving as acting CIO. Schafer is the administrator for the statewide computer network that links county and state government.

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