"Our CIOs have to manage a lot of federal data, and they all have to be managed differently, even though the CIO is attempting ... to establish an enterprise vision," she says. "These federal regulations are standing in the way of consolidation and optimization, to put it simply."
So NASCIO is asking for relief from federal regulations, generally (a tall order, Cooke admits), and in particular is trying to call attention to the challenge of sharing information, both within different state agencies and with outside entities like federal and local government groups, other states and the private sector.
Too often, Cooke says, federal programs administered by the states don't afford CIOs or agency administrators the explicit flexibility to share information and collaborate across the siloes in which those programs reside. The result of those barriers not only impedes operational efficiencies, but can be a detriment to citizen services when clearly related data sets -- say, those involving crime and education statistics -- are kept apart.
NASCIO is calling on federal authorities to incorporate reasonable data-sharing provisions as they move ahead with new programs and regulations, and is urging support for the standards-based National Information Exchange Model.
"The current barriers to information sharing is that regulations do not contemplate that up-front, so it makes it harder for us later after we receive the funds ... to be able to do cross-boundary collaboration. It makes it really difficult," Cooke says. "Let's think about how the feds can make that easier and more possible at the get-go."
A major facet of NASCIO's policy work is the broad effort to help lawmakers see the tech issues CIOs focus on amid a larger canvas of social benefit, to make the connections between the work that state tech teams do and the bigger public-policy goals envisioned by federal laws and regulations. That can pose a challenge when advocates like Cooke meet with members of Congress and policymakers who don't typically focus on tech issues, and are often inclined to dismiss IT as "a backroom kind of thing."
"These are not just state CIO issues, these are issues that affect all of us," Cooke says. "I think we as a CIO organization feel some of these things more acutely, but it affects all of us."
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