Congress heeds state issues

Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act

Federal lawmakers have become more aware of state and local technology concerns, state officials say.

As part of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' fourth annual DC Fly-In, 15 state CIOs spoke to Congress about national issues such as communications interoperability, information security and state-specific topics. In the past, CIOs spent much of their time explaining the basic issues, but this year congressional members and their staffers not only understood basic IT concepts but also sought input.

"When we came four years ago and talked about enterprise architecture, that was almost a foreign term....It's now a part of their language," said Missouri CIO Gerry Wethington, president of NASCIO.

Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.) sought NASCIO's input on two bills, one focusing on state and local geospatial data for infrastructure protection and the other on privacy protection for Social Security numbers.

Both bills came up as the CIOs met with their state delegations and with members in oversight and appropriations roles. Many discussions centered on issues the CIOs wanted to raise, such as conflicting requirements attached to federal funding and grants, but governance and collaboration between different portions of government dominated many of the conversations, Wethington said.

Governance also came up during a roundtable discussion with federal and industry experts on wireless communications interoperability. As state officials eliminate communications interoperability problems, they can't create new barriers between one state and another, said Matthew Miszewski, Wisconsin's CIO.

Others, including David Boyd, program manager for Safecom at the Homeland Security Department, pointed out that the CIO not only has to work with other technology and program personnel but also with the political sphere, said Otto Doll, South Dakota CIO, who led the discussion.

Governance "has to integrate with CIOs as the technologists and also with industry and the various groups that support wireless communications," he said. "We are but one of several entities that have to make this happen."

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