Legislative Information Technology Priorities 2020

8/15/2020

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Summary of Survey Results

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on legislative information technology offices in 2020. An August survey of key information technology CIOs and directors in state legislatures found that legislative IT staff in many states have shifted priorities and provided new services to meet the demands of a remote workforce and to support virtual legislative sessions and hearings. 

In the survey, CIOs and IT directors indicated that among their top priorities in the coming months will be developing new applications to support remote sessions, hearings or voting. For example, one respondent noted: “We are shifting our disaster recovery strategy from tape to cloud, beginning Office 365 adoption more broadly to support remote workers, and developing new apps for paperless legislative processes. I believe we will be asked to find more permanent solutions for supporting remote session as well. The current solution was put together quickly for temporary use.” 

Other respondents indicated that having previously upgraded to cloud-based systems helped with the transition to remote work and meetings, while still others specifically mentioned the need to investigate the possibility of moving applications and data to the cloud. 

Concerns about funding and the need for additional security measures due to COVID-19 also figured prominently in responses to the survey. And a majority of CIOs or directors expect that combating security threats will be either the “most important” or an “important” priority for their office in the next few years (similar to results of past surveys).

Lastly, implementing or increasing capacity for video livestreaming and recordings of legislative proceedings is also a priority for many CIOs or directors. As legislatures moved to remote hearings in 2020, some began or augmented livestreaming and recording committee hearings to ensure that hearings would be accessible to the public, especially if state capitol buildings were closed due to the pandemic.

Survey Overview

To identify current and anticipated legislative technology projects and priorities, key legislative information technology contacts (CIOs, IT directors or managers) in all 50 states were sent an online survey in August 2020. Twenty-seven contacts in 25 states responded and identified the top IT priorities and challenges they will face in the next one to three years. Respondents included 18 CIOs/directors in central legislative IT offices and nine in IT offices that serve only one chamber, caucus or legislative agency. 

Responses to the full survey questions follow.

Table 1. Of the following, please identify the issues that are most or least challenging for you as a technology manager.

Challenges for IT Offices

 

Very challenging

Challenging

Not challenging

 

Number of responses

Limited budgets

7

16

4

Finding/retaining skilled IT staff

9

17

2

Keeping up with changing/new technologies

12

15

1

Keeping up with security threats

11

15

1

Getting a seat at the table for management decisions

3

14

11

 

Table 2. How great an impact has the coronavirus (COVID-19) had on your office’s priorities this year?

Impact of COVID-19

 

Number of responses

Very significant

16

Significant

10

Neutral

2

Insignificant

0

Very insignificant

0

 

Table 3. How great of an impact do you anticipate the coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on the following priorities of your office in the next year?
Impact on Priorities

 

Very significant

Significant

Neutral

Insignificant

Very insignificant

 

Number of Responses

Budget/availability of funds

 

13

12

2

1

0

Adding or retaining skilled IT staff

 

9

9

7

2

1

Need for additional security measures, such as training, staffing, etc.

 

3

17

6

1

0

Current project priorities (e.g., postponement or shifting of current or previously planned projects)

 

7

15

4

2

0

New projects or services

 

8

14

5

1

0

 

Table  4. Which of the following projects do you expect to be a priority for your office in the next one to three years?

IT Priorities

 

Most important

Important

Somewhat important

Not Important at this time

N/A or project already completed

 

Number of responses

Developing new applications to support remote sessions, hearings or voting

 

15

7

3

1

2

Providing equipment, software and support for remote work

 

8

12

4

1

3

Developing customized mobile apps for mobile devices

1

6

10

10

1

Adapting legislative websites for mobile devices

 

2

6

7

5

8

Providing technical management of or support for members’ personal mobile devices (BYOD)

 

1

6

13

4

4

Developing or refining systems to enable a paperless environment

 

4

11

8

1

4

Moving to email in the cloud (e.g., Google or Office 365)

 

4

3

3

4

14

Combating security threats, taking increased security measures

 

10

13

3

1

1

Developing new legislative applications (e.g., bill drafting, bill status, committee systems) 

7

8

6

2

5

Implementing or increasing capacity for video livestreaming and/or recordings of legislative proceedings

 

12

7

0

1

8

Supporting data analysis and visualization tools

 

0

4

12

11

1

Developing or supporting tools for online citizen engagement

 

1

9

12

4

2

Additional Resources