States face full plate of issues in 2008

State governors and legislators have not yet taken full advantage of available technology that can help them improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in public programs, the professional services firm Deloitte said in its 2008 industry outlook released today.

Technology can help states not only compensate for revenue shortfalls but also meet an array of pressing needs. "Recent polls suggest that people are concerned about health care, immigration, and security and other issues, but they don't see Congress in a position to address these challenges ? particularly in a presidential election year ? so they expect states to step in," the report states.

One of the most pressing issues facing state government is the need to make maximum use of technology to enhance accountability, improve security and elevate citizen services, Deloitte said.

To integrate services and improve accessibility in a cost-effective way, states can make greater use of delivery mechanisms such as voice response systems and Web portals, Deloitte said. And other technologies such as call centers, the Internet and expanded telecommunications also might ease the burden associated with the demands of specific policy goals and objectives.

Other pressing issues facing state government are:
  • Managing health care costs and quality.
  • Upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure.
  • Improving educational performance levels.
  • Enhancing emergency preparedness.

Natural disasters and threats from terrorism, biological attacks and pandemics are forcing states to continually improve and test their emergency preparedness and response capabilities, the report states. Although the federal government distributes some funding and guidance, states must take the lead in implementing preparedness programs such as interoperable communications and cross-agency coordination.

Deloitte states that greater use of public/private partnerships and widespread sharing of best practices are some of the approaches states can use to address the issues.

About the Author

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

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