MEDIA

For Media/Press Inquiries:
Erin Choy
External Affairs Manager
Agency for State Technology
Erin.Choy@ast.myflorida.com
(850) 412-6041


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NASCIO Recognizes Outstanding Achievements in State IT: Finalists Announced for 2018 NASCIO State IT Recognition Awards

AST and the State of Florida have been recognized in the Enterprise IT Management Initiatives category.

LEXINGTON, Ky., Wednesday, September 5, 2018 — The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has selected 31 finalists across 10 categories for the State IT Recognition Awards. This is the 30th consecutive year NASCIO has honored outstanding information technology achievements in state government through the awards.

Projects and initiatives from NASCIO member states, territories, and the District of Columbia were eligible for nomination. NASCIO members served as volunteer judges to review the 120+ submissions, narrowing the nominees down to finalists in each category. From these finalists, a recipient will be announced during an awards dinner at the upcoming NASCIO Annual Conference this October in San Diego, CA.

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GovTech logo

State CIOs Talk Emerging Tech

We asked state CIOs about what they consider to be the next big thing in government IT.
by Noelle Knell / July/August 2018

 Eric Larson, State of Florida CIO and Executive Director of AST

Eric Larson, State of Florida CIO and Executive Director of AST

Eric Larson, CIO, Florida

“Historically, data in state government has been siloed in program areas, and there’s been little cross-pollination of data across different program areas. The next big thing in government will be when we start applying our AI, machine learning and deep learning. There are lots of different ways to characterize it, but [we’ll see] the patterns and the evidence that comes out of analyzing the data sets we have, realizing the value of and looking at the data, inspecting it and looking for insights and ultimately getting to a point where we can support policy decisions based on observations within the data that we haven’t rooted out yet.”


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Florida’s Retirement Problem and Its Role in IT Modernization

Many CIOs want to get rid of legacy technology like the mainframe. Florida CIO Eric Larson explains how the state's workforce situation is forcing the issue.

by Noelle Knell, Lauren Harrison / May 18, 2018

The number of technology employees nearing retirement in the state of Florida is proof positive that the so-called "silver tsunami" phenomenon is alive and well. In the video above, we caught up with Florida Chief Information Officer Eric Larson, who explains that the state's aging workforce is complicating their path to modernization, especially when it comes to legacy systems.  

"We either have to modernize it, we have to outsource it, we have to get other people involved so we can sustain it until we can migrate to a different environment," Larson said in an interview at last month's NASCIO midyear conference.

As Larson explained, the Florida Agency for State Technology was directed by state lawmakers to outsource the mainframe, in part due to workforce constraints. 

"People that have been employed the longest won't be eligible to be employed by the state anymore," he said, "so that creates a crisis where we have a defined timeline to come up with another arrangement."

(Keep Reading, watch video)


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Florida’s Data-Driven Future

Chief Information Officer Eric Larson talks about Florida’s plans to work on how the Agency for State Technology manages data to realize better outcomes across the state.

by Lauren Harrison, Noelle Knell / April 30, 2018

A lot of public-sector work is “unromantic,” as Florida CIO Eric Larson puts it. But so often it’s that behind-the-scenes effort that creates real change in the way government works both internally and for citizens.

At the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Midyear conference in Baltimore last week, Larson talked to Government Technology about what the state has planned for moving forward with its data collection and analysis, including appointing a chief data officer, building a data catalog and creating a governance structure around all that available information.

“And of course, the Legislature is interested in the ultimate outcome, which is an open data portal,” Larson said. “But in order to get to understanding what data you can release, you have to understand what data you can’t release, and to go through all the unromantic parts of managing the data.”

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Statescoop logo

Winners announced for 2018 StateScoop 50 awards

April 23, 2018

The 2018 winners of the StateScoop 50 awards — which annually highlight the best and brightest in the state IT community — were announced Sunday April 22 in Baltimore, Maryland, at the beginning of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' midyear conference.

The awards, which were presented for their fifth consecutive year, honor state government information technology and cybersecurity executives, industry influencers, up-and-comers and innovative projects.

Members of the state and local IT community nominated thousands of government leaders in February and March 2018. From there, StateScoop narrowed the list to the top 170 with the most nominations. StateScoop readers then cast more than 500,000 votes nationally in March and April to select the final 50 2018 winners.

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Cybersecurity Takes Center Stage

April 16, 2018

By Jenny Vickers
From the March/April 2018 Issue

You only have to glance at today’s headlines to know that cybersecurity has surged to the top of the list of U.S. national security concerns. The good news is that more than a dozen states are engaged in a fierce competition to head the emerging leaderboard in cybersecurity facilities and programs. What the best initiatives have in common is close cooperation between U.S. Defense and intelligence assets and world-class institutions of higher education.

Cybersecurity is quickly becoming the most lucrative of careers in IT, but the red-hot demand for certified IT security professionals is already creating a nationwide shortage. According to industry experts, currently there are roughly half a million cybersecurity-related job openings in the United States, but the gap between available workforce and demand is growing exponentially. By 2019, there will be 6 million job openings for information security professionals—but only 4.5 million security professionals to fill those roles. Industry analysts say there will be a projected need for 1.8 million additional cybersecurity professionals to fill the workforce gap by 2022.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual rate of growth for jobs in information security is projected at 37 percent between now and 2022; IT security jobs offer salaries three times the national average.

Here’s an in-depth look at locations that have established a leadership position in cybersecurity, an emerging high-tech sector racing to meet a growing threat.

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Cybersecurity partnerships: Strength in numbers

By Susan Miller
Mar 22, 2018

As the public sector wrestles with improving cybersecurity, some organizations are pooling their strengths and forming partnerships to better share threat information and provide tactical cybersecurity training to IT staff.

In North Carolina, the Department of Public Safety is partnering with the Department of Information Technology to form the Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Housed in the state's Bureau of Investigation, ISSAC will promote cyber awareness and information sharing, providing actionable cyber intelligence to private- and public-sector partners and citizens.

ISSAC will work with a number of federal, state and local partners including the North Carolina National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the State Bureau of Investigation and others.  

(Keep reading)


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The Florida Channel logo

TFC News Brief – 3/20/18

AST's Cybersecurity training discussed at the 00:09:37 mark.


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Partnership involving UWF will put state as a leader in cybersecurity

by Kristie Henderson
Tuesday, March 20th 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WEAR) — A partnership between the University of West Florida (UWF) Center for Cybersecurity and Florida Agency for State Technology (AST) will provide education and training for state agency personnel.

The training will also put Florida as a leader in cybersecurity, UWF added.

“As the threats evolve, we must continue to train our information security and technology resources. We hope our partnership with UWF will serve as a model for other states to not only provide advanced cyber training but to offer on-going educational opportunities for state employees,” said AST Executive Director and State Chief Information Officer Eric Larson.

The program will combine features and training on educational courses face-to-face and online.

UWF said the program will provide competency-based certifications to prepare state personnel for major cybersecurity roles.

“When we started the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, this is the type of partnership we envisioned,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “Together, we will enhance the ability of state personnel to detect and defend against cyber attacks and fulfill our commitment to be a leader in cybersecurity education and training.”

Initial training began Tuesday at the Florida Department of Revenue in Tallahassee. They focused on cybersecurity awareness and fundamentals for AST personnel, state agency information security managers, and other information technology personnel.


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Florida starts cybersecurity training through university, cyber range partnerships

Technology leaders say they're hopeful that this type of collaboration can be replicated in other state governments.

By Ryan Johnston
March 20, 2018 6:15 PM

State IT personnel in Florida began initial cybersecurity training on Tuesday with the University of West Florida's Center for Cybersecurity.

Propelled on the state side by Florida’s Agency for State Technology (AST), state agency information security managers and other information technology personnel will be utilizing UWF’s Center for Cybersecurity to practice cybersecurity fundamentals and awareness. 

Overall, the partnership is intended to fortify the state’s cybersecurity posture and support the government workforce with the latest learning resources and information.

Additional topics will include cybersecurity incident management, network defense, operating system hardening, risk management, cloud security and other emerging topics according to a statement released Tuesday, with more training days expected in the next two weeks.

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University of West Florida Newsroom logo

UWF Center for Cybersecurity partners with the Florida Agency for State Technology to enhance Florida’s cybersecurity resiliency

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu
Mar. 20, 2018

The University of West Florida (UWF) Center for Cybersecurity is partnering with the Florida Agency for State Technology (AST) to provide cutting-edge cybersecurity education and training for state agency personnel and position Florida as a leader in cybersecurity resiliency and workforce development.

The program will integrate unique and innovative features and provide hands-on training and educational courses using face-to-face, online, and remote delivery to prepare state personnel to detect and protect against emerging cyber threats and attacks. The program will provide competency-based certifications to prepare state personnel for core cybersecurity work roles.

“As the threats evolve, we must continue to train our information security and technology resources. We hope our partnership with UWF will serve as a model for other states to not only provide advanced cyber training, but to offer on-going educational opportunities for state employees,” said AST Executive Director and State Chief Information Officer Eric Larson.

(Keep Reading)


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Pensacola News Journal logo

University of West Florida will provide cybersecurity training for state IT workers

Kevin Robinson, krobinson4@pnj.com Published 8:00 a.m. CT March 20, 2018 | Updated 11:15 a.m. CT March 20, 2018

The University of West Florida's Center for Cybersecurity is continuing to build its growing reputation as a premier school for cybersecurity education.

UWF announced today that the center is partnering with the Florida Agency for State Technology to provide cybersecurity education and training to state employees. 

"For us, it's a huge honor and a huge responsibility," said Eman El-Sheikh, director of the Center for Cybersecurity.

The AST is the agency charged with developing state IT policy, managing state IT resources and projects, maintaining the State Data Center and protecting information and access to services for Florida and Floridians.

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Florida's 2nd chief data officer sets foundation for data sharing, new projects

Career software architect Burt Walsh has been leading the state's data efforts since early January.

By Colin Wood
February 26, 2018 2:43 PM

After a false start last year, the State of Florida has hired a new chief data officer who is now cataloging data in preparation for new endeavors.

Florida Chief Data Officer Burt Walsh told StateScoop on Monday that for the last several weeks he has been creating an inventory of all the state's data. The project is the first step toward empowering Florida's Agency for State Technology (AST) to beat government's IT's favorite drum: to improve operational efficiency and better serve citizens.

Walsh replaces Nancy Sampson, who was hired by AST as its first CDO in October and left the following month. Funded through Florida's 2017-2018 General Appropriations Act, AST's data chief is required to complete the data inventory by June.

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Florida Races to Catalog Its Data

With a looming deadline fast approaching, Florida’s new chief data officer is working against the clock to make sense of the wealth of data the state is sitting on.

by Theo Douglas / February 26, 2018

Florida’s second-ever chief data officer (CDO), who arrived last month from the private sector, said he is already deep in talks with agency heads around the state and making progress toward an important mid-year data deadline.

Burt Walsh, most recently the principal solution architect/development lead, Amazon Web Services Group at DXC Technology, started as Florida’s CDO the week of Jan. 8, taking over for Nancy Sampson.

Like his predecessor, Walsh faces a tight June 30 deadline set by the Legislature to create a data catalog inventorying the state’s many data sets.

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For the first time ever, Florida has a geographic information officer

Ekaterina Fitos will coordinate data sharing and work to streamline processes across the state government.

By Colin Wood
January 8, 2018

Florida has just taken itself off a very short list of states that don't have a designated official for managing geospatial information systems projects.

Ekaterina Fitos is the state's first geographic information officer, officials confirmed to StateScoop on Friday, and has been working under the state's Agency for State Technology since Dec. 27. The appointment of a designated GIS official enables the state to apply for federal grant funding for GIS projects and will help to organize disparate uses of the technology already present across state agencies, Florida Chief Technology Officer Eric Larson told StateScoop in August.

Fitos, who started her career as a biological scientist and GIS analyst with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, joins AST now from a position as a senior GIS specialist at construction engineering company CH2M Hill. In the new role, she said, she is charged with coordinating data sharing and streamlining processes for GIS across the state.

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