NASCIO: States should use resources they've got

Private-sector companies should market solutions that leverage existing state criminal justice and public safety communications resources rather than offer new solutions, Gerry Wethington, president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and Missouri's CIO said today in Washington.

Wethington said companies that want to capitalize on opportunities related to data sharing and interoperability need to refrain from developing "one-off" solutions and use what resources they have instead.

"In acquisitions, we're seeing a narrowing of the field for applications. ? The market is not there like it used to be," Wethington said, referring to the shortage of funds for new information technology projects at the state level.

Wethington made his remarks during a press conference held in conjunction with NASCIO's fourth annual Washington "fly-in" meeting this week. State CIOs come to the nation's capital to meet with members of Congress and the administration to discuss state IT issues.

During the two-day event, 15 state CIOs held about 70 meeting to discuss issues, including cybersecurity, enterprise architecture, federal IT funding reform, homeland security information systems and wireless communications interoperability. The association also held a half-day intergovernmental roundtable discussion on wireless communications interoperability.

NASCIO has made substantial progress advancing state IT needs for cybersecurity and enterprise architecture since it began holding the fly-ins, Wethington said.

"When we came [to Washington] four years ago, enterprise architecture was almost a foreign term," he said. "It is now part of [the members'] language."

He said that members of Congress and their staffs expressed a keen interest in geographic information systems technology during the fly-in. What's more, they have asked the state CIOs to review legislative provisions related to GIS, he said.

The message that states want to leverage existing IT resources for justice and public safety isn't being sent just to the private sector, either. State CIOs are also asking federal agencies not to make them create new systems where none existed before.

For example, federal and state government already have developed four separate justice information systems, Wethington said. Information can flow through existing message switches in these systems, he said.

The same holds true for wireless communications interoperability, said Matthew Miszewski, Wisconsin CIO. "We've got to be careful not to build a bigger silo [for wireless interoperability]," he said.

Wethington said he expects the majority of companies?those that want to grow their business with state government?will heed the warning about leveraging existing resources. But there will be some that don't, he added.

"There are some companies that don't care about architecture and standards, and they probably won't be around in a few years," he said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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