What the new political landscape means for local government and the tech industry

By Jennifer Saha

With a new year comes a new federal administration and new priorities. What that means to local governments and the technology industry that serves them has yet to be seen but one thing is certain: priorities of government leaders will change.

On top of changes at the federal level, 36 states and three territories will hold gubernatorial elections in 2018; many of which are currently ramping up into robust campaigns. CompTIA, a not-for-profit IT trade association, represents thousands of technology companies --  some of which focus on and sell to state and local governments and collaborate within our State, Local Government & Education (SLED) Council.  These industry leaders represent the voice of the IT industry serving government. 

So, what does that voice say to governments in a state of transition?  We’re here to help.  Industry stands ready to assist governments, big and small, through political transitions to get to the heart of the matter: using technology to improve government service delivery.  Ensuring that government leaders— both in office currently and those campaigning for office— value technology as a critical component of successful governance will continue to be crucial.

Technology has no term limit, and its uses in government to achieve the priorities of leadership are constantly evolving in ways that may not even be evident to many of the citizens that governments serve. Due to the abilities of cities and counties to be nimble and flexible, they have already positioned themselves as the incubators of government technology and are often the first to adopt cutting-edge tech initiatives like IoT, open data, and digital service delivery.  As the federal government and states pick up the pace on these initiatives, they can turn to a technology industry that already has excellent examples of successful technology implementations in cities and counties across the United States. 

Innovative technologies often start at the city and county level and scale up to states and the federal government.  Meanwhile, rules and policies regulating these innovations often take a top-down approach.  We have observed this phenomenon with the Smart Cities movement—smart states are beginning to emerge while the federal government is just now focusing on IoT regulations and guidelines.  Guidance after implementation makes interoperability and compliance difficult to untangle, yet this is the technology landscape that we will continue to face in the coming year.

Conflicting guidance and implementation timelines will make flexibility and adaptability essential.  Unfortunately, these traits are not always prominent in government.  With new administrations and changing priorities from government leadership over the next two years, maintaining this flexibility and adaptability in technology projects and systems will nonetheless be imperative. We will need to differentiate the successful and innovative cities and counties from those that are constantly trying to catch up.  The technology industry that serves government are experts in navigating this complex regulatory jungle and can serve as a resource on best ways to navigate the tangled maze of rules, policies, and regulations that govern how technology is implemented.

How can governments keep pace? Facilitation of open channels of communication between the technology industry and government will be vital.  It will serve the purposes of aligning government with the best practices in industry as well as educating our future leaders on how the critical needs of government can be met using technology.


Jennifer Saha is the Director of the State, Local Government & Education Council (SLED) for CompTIA, the world’s largest technology trade association.  Jennifer and the SLED Council serve as the voice of the IT industry serving state and local governments. 

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