The latest annual survey of local and county government tech leaders by the Public Technology Institute (PTI) shows continued need for funding, talent, and leadership engagement to boost government cybersecurity efforts.

PTI, which is part of CompTIA – the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce – conducted the annual cybersecurity survey of city and county government technology leaders from around the nation in August and September 2021. More than 75 government IT executives who work for local governments of all sizes participated in PTI’s 2022 Local Government Cybersecurity National Survey.

“This has been a year filled with anticipation regarding the release of federal funding for state and local cybersecurity initiatives via the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act,” said Dr. Alan Shark, vice president, public sector, and executive director of PTI. “Budgeting for cyber continues to be a major concern of local governments but the good news is that most of the respondents have seen an increase in their current cybersecurity budgets.”

Other positive results from the survey included an increase in the number of organizations that have implemented policies to better manage mobile devices. IT executives are also feeling a high level of satisfaction when it comes to the security protocols implemented by the service providers of their networks.

Some of the more significant findings from this year’s survey offer a mix bag of results:

  • 70 percent of respondents saw an increase in their current cybersecurity budgets compared to the previous year;
  • 63 percent of respondents felt their budgets were not adequate to support their cybersecurity initiatives;
  • 73 percent of respondents said their elected leaders are only somewhat engaged (51 percent) or not engaged (22 percent) with their organization’s cybersecurity efforts;
  • 40 percent of IT executives say their organizations’ premiums for cybersecurity insurance have risen dramatically over the past year, while coverage limits are declining; and
  • 39 percent of local IT executives rated the relationship as poor between their local government IT organization and the state in terms of information sharing, resource sharing, education and training provided by the state.

This last issue regarding state and local government relations is a critically important one, seeing as to how the Federal funding will pass through the states before it reaches the locals’ coffers.

When I asked Dr. Shark from PTI about the funding process and whether Feds are deploying a fair and open methodology, he replied, “That’s a very loaded question.”

“If you are referring to the billion dollar cyber program [approved by Congress earlier this year to provide security grants to state and local governments] it gets very complicated,” he continued, “it is not an issue of fair or openness – the grant program is so far removed from reality it gets crazy.”

“Traditionally, states, despite the best of intentions, do not generally have good and consistent communication with locals – let alone relationships,” he said. “To make matters worse, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is in charge and have zero working ongoing relationships with locals. Honesty and openness is not an issue.”

I guess time will tell.

The 2022 Local Government Cybersecurity National Survey is available for download here.

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John Thomas Flynn
John Thomas Flynn
John Thomas Flynn serves as a senior advisor for government programs at MeriTalk. He was the first CIO for the both the State of California and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was president of NASCIO.