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Tong to Cities: Let the State Help with Your IT Needs

State CIO Amy Tong was a key speaker Tuesday at the annual conference of the Municipal Information Systems Association of California meeting in Monterey.

MONTEREY — The state’s chief information officer, Amy Tong, brought a message of “boundary-less cooperation” on the road this week to her municipal counterparts from up and down the state:

The California Department of Technology (CDT), she said, “is here to help you.” Tong was a key speaker Tuesday at the annual conference of the Municipal Information Systems Association of California (MISAC) meeting in Monterey.

Tong struck several themes familiar to those who’ve followed CDT in recent years:

  • The state is still following “Vision 2020,” the strategic plan for IT. (Tong joked that when the report was first given that name in 2017, her department received pushback — from optometrists.) The document’s guiding principles are “Create One Digital Government,” “Ensure Secure Delivery,” and “Build a Dynamic Workforce.” Those principles remain steadfast, she said.
  • Tong invited the municipal IT chiefs to use the state’s cybersecurity defenses, which touches on the second pillar in Vision 2020.
  • The state’s policy has evolved to one of “cloud-smart rather than cloud-first.” Citing CDT’s strategic plan, she noted that cloud computing and storage aren’t necessarily a “one size fits all” answer to the varied needs of governmental agencies.
  • She outlined the January genesis of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Office of Digital Innovation (ODI) — a name that had already been in use by a CDT division. “Of 32 choices for a name, they picked that one,” Tong joked. As a result, CDT created the Office of Enterprise Technology, which has a slightly different mission.
  • Municipalities are welcome to use the state’s Software Licensing Program (SLP), through which “extensive software discounts are negotiated with major software publishers that are then passed on to the State, through the SLP contracts established with authorized participating resellers.” (SLP comes under the aegis of the state Department of General Services but is facilitated in part by CDT.)
“Public sector is public sector,” Tong told Techwire in an interview after her address.  

She also put in a plug for the California Cybersecurity Education Summit on Wednesday, an annual event put on by California State University at Sacramento, CDT, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), the California Military Department (Cal Guard) and the California Highway Patrol. She noted that on the afternoon of the event, activities will “duke it out” in a hackathon, in which collegiate coders on the Red Team will try to hack past the defenses of their Blue Team counterparts. Tong, herself a former “geek” who loved coding, was asked if she’d be rolling up her sleeves and participating.

“I don’t think I even qualify anymore,” she said with a laugh. “There are people at a level, oh my. …”

Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.