Information exchange, cybersecurity and building a public safety broadband network are primary concerns for state CIOs across the nation, according to recently released federal advocacy priorities from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers for 2013. Regarding cybersecurity, in particular, NASCIO officials said the nation lacks "the level of federal and state investment and leadership" necessary to reduce risk and ensure safety in areas like healthcare.
"Over the past few years, cybersecurity has evolved into the most significant asymmetrical threat to our national security," NASCIO officials said. "Nation-states, 'hacktivists,' and criminals are attempting to exploit state government networks for economic gain, political espionage, and to compromise critical infrastructure."
Case in point, last year, hackers were able to infiltrate both the Utah Health Exchange and the Utah Department of Health's Medicaid database. The latter incident, which was perpetrated by Eastern European hackers, caused healthcare information for nearly 780,000 Medicaid patients to be compromised. The former caused the state's health exchange site to be useless for roughly a week.
"There have been 94 million cases in which personal information has been exposed to potential identity theft through data breaches at government agencies since 2009, with a 680 percent increase in cyber threats against those systems in the last five years," Mitch Herckis, Director of Government Affairs for NASCIO, said in a statement. "There is no more significant issue to state CIOs than keeping our citizens safe and their personal information secure--but we need greater collaboration and support from the federal government to deter the increasing threats."
With regard to information exchange, NASCIO President Brenda Decker, who also serves as CIO for Nebraska, said that "simple reforms" could help to reduce duplicative efforts and save billions in taxpayer dollars. "It's past time to modernize how federal agencies work with states to deliver key services, from Medicare benefits to homeland security," Decker said in a statement.
Last May, NASCIO called for a national IT framework to be used by all states in updating their Medicaid information systems.