NASCIO brings perspective to feds

Keith Comstock, West Virginia's chief technology officer, was named as the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' liaison to the federal CIO Council Jan. 8.

He replaces former New Jersey CIO Wendy Rayner, who served as the liaison last year. Rayner retired from state government Dec. 28.

Comstock became West Virginia CTO in January 2002 and heads the state's technology office (www.wvgot.org). He said Rayner and Connecticut CIO Rock Regan, who currently heads NASCIO, asked him to take on the liaison role because of his work as a federal contractor.

He was a top executive with Clarksburg, W.Va.-based Micah Systems Inc., an information technology firm founded by his father. Then, in 1994, he and his brother co-founded an Internet/intranet development business called Fenwick Technologies Inc., which also has headquarters in the state.

"After a year of being on the other side of this and looking at whether a federal mandate requires changes to state systems, I might have some unique perspective on the intersection between federal and state systems," he said.

As the liaison, Comstock's job is to present to federal officials a collective state government view of policies and issues. He expects that security, privacy and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will be some of the major issues.

Since the Year 2000 computer bug problem surfaced, the working relationship between the federal and state governments has grown on technology issues.

In 2000, collaboration among federal, state and local government officials produced the Government Without Boundaries project, a virtual and seamless pool of online information and services irrespective of government. Rayner was a huge proponent of that project.

Public- and private-sector officials have said that the federal government is recognizing the importance of involving state and local governments in delivering better services and information to constituents. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have only intensified calls for more interaction and information sharing among all levels of government.

NASCIO, composed of CIOs from the 50 states, six U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., has been working closer with federal officials in regard to homeland security, bioterrorism, cybersecurity and funding. Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the federal Office of Management and Budget, heads the CIO Council and is expected to address NASCIO members at their April conference in Denver.

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