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NALIT News | Spring 2024

May 28, 2024

NALIT’s Communication Platform

Please note that the primary avenue for information on NALIT meetings and the newsletter is the new NALIT platform. You can also find the latest discussions on help desk ticketing, AI, closed captions, digital signage and much more. Please note that this platform is NALIT’s main communication tool.

This platform is set up for weekly digests. However, you may want to change your notifications now that we are approaching the meeting season.

Not sure how to use the Platform? 1) Make certain you know your NCSL login and password. 2) Visit and log in to your account. 3) In the address bar, navigate to NCSL’s server will ask you for permission to access our database to verify you work for a legislature. You should see the NALIT logo. If you don’t, please contact Kae Warnock for assistance.

2024-25 Election of Executive Committee

Elections for NALIT Executive Committee members will be conducted at the NALIT Annual Business Meeting, held in conjunction with the NCSL Legislative Summit in August 2024.

Secretary: The secretary is elected for one year and automatically succeeds the following year to the office of vice-chair for one year. The secretary works with the NCSL staff liaison to publish and distribute the association newsletter. The secretary is not required to travel but is encouraged to attend any meetings they can. Once the secretary moves up to vice-chair and then chair, they will need to have approval from their director to travel to the LSCC meetings to represent NALIT and ideally to the NALIT Professional Development Seminar.

Directors: Directors are elected for two-year terms and may be reelected for a second consecutive term. Serve on the executive committee including helping to identify topics and faculty for NALIT meetings and webinars. Serve in other appointed roles as assigned by the chair. (including committees or other advisory roles).

Please fill out this form to express your interest in running for the secretary position or a director position by Friday, June 21.

Strategic Planning: Aligning the IT Investment

By Dave Burhop, Director, Division of Legislative Automated Systems, Virginia

Strategic planning in information technology has emerged as a pivotal tool for legislatures, aiding in informed decision-making to optimize organizational performance.

North Dakota uses Azure Dev Ops to track project requests for system administration and support. Those requests are prioritized by the divisions of the Legislative Council office and then presented each biennium to a committee of Senate and House leaders that makes key decisions on legislative operations.

In 2023, Ohio partnered with an outside firm to develop its IT strategy. The resulting report was presented to their legislative steering committee ensuring periodic review and refinement.

Similarly, Vermont’s Office of Legislative Information Technology drafted a strategic plan in 2019 to present to legislative leaders. While the formal plan was not adopted in its entirety, the office continues to draft internal strategies to help formulate the legislative IT budget. They use their plan as a set of guardrails and an overall business objective on how to approach the IT support the legislature needs. These strategies are presented to decision-makers on the Joint Legislative Management and Budget Committee for final approval.

Despite these strides, IT strategic planning remains non-standardized across state legislatures.

An IT strategic plan is an exercise used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establishing agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assessing and adjusting the organization’s technology direction in response to a changing environment. The plan should act as a roadmap to guide IT operations and provide information to decision-makers on future needs. Periodic reassessment ensures alignment with evolving technological landscapes and legislative needs.

For a legislature, considering the legislature’s technological needs including storage (servers, cloud space, or both), type and number of devices needed (does the legislature provide all of the devices that legislators use or are they allowed to bring their own devices?), software needed, number of IT staff needed to maintain and secure the system, application developers and other specialized staff, and a cycle for replacement of equipment and software.

Given the substantial budget allocation to IT, it makes sense that an organization would want to employ a high degree of investment management. This requires a solid understanding by executive leaders and/or high-level management of how well their technology aligns with business/operational strategies two to three years in the future.

Much like a legislature relies on legislative rules and budgets to ensure a smooth flow throughout the lawmaking process, IT shops need strategic plans to help them focus on the business goals of the legislature including virtual public participation, security and transparency. With the input of their legislative technology experts, legislatures can support those goals and planning by the IT staff can be much more targeted.

So why don’t more state legislatures perform this more robust exercise? The reasons vary as much as individual legislative IT divisions differ. We already know that legislative IT offices do review the basic technological needs to plan projects, but it may be time for a discussion between legislative leadership and their IT managers regarding the need for IT strategic planning to give the legislature a long-term roadmap for the future.

If the decision is to move forward with the planning process, thoughtful consideration should be given to contracting with a third party to facilitate the meeting(s) and document both the plan and the plan’s execution. It’s probably smart to give preference to a smaller/local third party who has considerable experience doing just this type of work for a very specialized client like a state legislature.

In some states, legislatures may require state agencies to perform both business and IT strategic planning periodically. So, it may be time to consider a similar plan for legislative IT operations. Work strategic planning into your organization’s budget and give it a try. The results could be surprisingly cost-effective.

2024 NCSL Annual Legislative Summit

Unbridle your legislative potential this year in Louisville, Aug. 5-7! Engage in transformative discussions, gain valuable insights from public policy experts, and develop new skills to take your career to the next level. Set against the backdrop of Louisville’s rich equestrian heritage, this immersive experience is the perfect opportunity to forge valuable connections and prepare for the policy challenges that lie ahead. Register today to secure your spot!

NALIT Legislative Staff Achievement Award recipients will be recognized at NCSL’s Legislative Summit during the NALIT business meeting Monday, Aug. 5 | 11:15-11:45 a.m. and the “Salute to Legislative Staff” lunch Tuesday, Aug. 6 | 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Register Now

2024 NALIT Professional Development Seminar

The 2024 NALIT Professional Development Seminar will be in Richmond, Va., Sept. 16-19. Registration information will appear on the NALIT Platform and the NCSL website in a few weeks. Topics will include: “Deliberate Creativity: Three Elements of Innovation;” “AI in Legislatures: Policies and Strategies;” “AI Tools for Developers;” “Cybersecurity in Legislatures;” “Brain Science and Diversity in the Workplace;” “Succession Plans: Creating Paths for Success;” “Improving Help Desk Performance;” and “DevOps: Identifying and Embracing the Changing Landscape.”

As always, the seminar will feature the following signature NALIT events:  

  • Five Minutes of Fame: One person from each participating chamber or legislative IT has five minutes (strictly enforced) to share anything they choose about IT. You can talk about hardware, software, infrastructure, application development, staffing, budgeting … You name it. Advance sign-up is required.  
  • Application Showcases: Each legislative IT office that submits a showcase will have a table in the ballroom. They will do several demonstrations of their application as our attendees move around the room to visit each showcase. Advance sign-up is required.  
  • Birds of a Feather Roundtables: Meet in small groups with your colleagues to discuss questions directly relevant to your position—whether management, support/help desk, infrastructure and systems administration, or applications development and programming.   

Register Now

NALIT Legislative Exchange Program (NLEP)—Host States

The NALIT Legislative Exchange Program (NLEP) is entering its second year!

The NLEP provides an excellent professional development opportunity for legislative IT staff. Selected participants will spend a few days with another legislature’s information technology office to learn about IT operations in another state.

The goal of the exchange program is to familiarize participants with all aspects of their host legislature’s IT operations, with an emphasis on their job specialization. In addition to offering hands-on training, the exchange facilitates sharing of ideas and innovations between state legislatures, with the host office and exchange participants learning from each other.

The NLEP application process is open, and we are seeking to compile a list of legislative IT offices willing to host a participant in 2024. There is little or no cost for host offices, and it is a win-win experience for both the host office and the selected participant.

If you are willing to host a participant in 2024, please complete this host form by June 15, 2024.

2024 NALIT Legislative Exchange (NLEP)—Call for Participants

On behalf of the Executive Committee, we are inviting NALIT members to participate in the NALIT Legislative Exchange Program (NLEP).

Legislative IT personnel handle unique responsibilities and play essential roles within their institutions. The LEP gives selected participants the opportunity to learn about processes and procedures employed by other state legislatures. Additionally, the exchange facilitates the sharing of ideas and innovations, resulting in a mutually rewarding professional development experience.

Selected participants will be matched with a host state, where they will spend three to five days observing and working with legislative staff. The exact agenda for each visit will be worked out between the exchange participant and the host state.

Those participating in the program are responsible for their travel and lodging expenses. However, to help partially offset these costs, NALIT will award a small stipend to each participant. The amount of this stipend will be determined based upon the number of program participants.

We encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your supervisor and apply for the 2024 program. For more details on qualification requirements, please see the attached NLEP application. Only complete applications will be considered.

The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2024.

Please do not hesitate to contact Kae Warnock should you have any questions.

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