The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) has published its 2022 Biennial Performance Report that tracks state agencies’ technology progress in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, and set forth tech goals for the next five years.

Texas, the second-largest state in the union, laid out four strategic technology advancement goals that it will work towards from 2022 to 2026:

  • Secure IT service delivery;
  • Advanced data management;
  • Strategic digital transformation; and
  • Proactive approach to emerging technologies.

Over half of the state’s government agencies are already reporting moderate or significant alignment to these goals.

“Over the past two years, state agencies in Texas showed significant progress in delivering secure, innovative technology that makes government more efficient, effective, transparent, and accountable,” said Texas Chief Information Officer Amanda Crawford.

The Lone Star State is planning for and implementing solutions that modernize its government services. The report features several recommendations based on each goal for legislative considerations to help the agencies prepare for the next generation of technology.

Secure IT Service Delivery

Eighty-nine percent of agencies said they are moderately or significantly aligned with the goal of ensuring Texans’ information is not compromised by evolving cybersecurity. This includes approaches like creating cost-effective cybersecurity tools, reinforcing risk-based security practices, partaking in cybersecurity education and training, and developing regional approaches to cybersecurity response.

However, top barriers remain among agencies’ ability to address security issues, including sophistication of threats, lack of funding, workforce shortage, emerging technology, and a lack of documented processes.

The DIR recommends the Texas Legislature consider three actions for the next biennium:

  • Require local governments and school districts to report cybersecurity incidents to DIR within a minimum reporting timeframe;
  • Require government entities to utilize the standardized “.gov” domain suffix when establishing a new domain name to reduce website spoofing; and
  • Allow state agencies and institutions of higher education to designate a joint information security officer.

Advanced Data Management

Only 31 percent of Texan agencies said they are minorly aligned or not aligned at all with the second goal: collecting, creating, and managing large amounts of data. Most agencies feel confident that they can enhance data security and privacy, foster a readily available open data-sharing culture, adopt flexible analytics, and strengthen data governance.

The agencies’ top barriers to fully reaching this strategic goal remain competing priorities, lack of dedicated personnel and qualified staff, resistance from data owners, and poor data quality.

The DIR recommends that a statewide chief privacy officer be established to provide a central point of contact on data privacy matters.

Strategic Digital Transformation

Sixty-seven percent of Texan agencies are aligned with digitally transforming how the government delivers value to its customers. Some tactics they have put in place include developing a strategic road map, implementing human-centered applications, reviewing the current level of digital maturity, and promoting mobile-first digital experiences.

Organizational readiness and willingness still present one of the largest challenges when it comes to the Texas government making that leap towards a digital transformation. According to the report, most state agencies said they are still in the early stages of digital transformation, with over 90 percent claiming they do not have a native mobile application available.

DIR provided two recommendations for lawmakers: enable private sector peer-to-peer payment solutions commonly used by the public to provide additional payment methods for government services; and enable broader access to digital government services, streamlined processes, and digitization by expanding the use of digital signatures.

Proactive Approach to Emerging Technologies

For the final goal DIR is striving to meet by 2026, agencies reported 74 percent alignment. Nearly three-quarters feel prepared for the emergence of new technologies that are collaborative, scalable, and adaptive – like artificial intelligence (AI). They are executing objectives like legacy modernization, resilient workforce development, flexible and adaptable approaches to implement new tech, and deploying emerging technologies.

Agencies reported competing priorities, lack of dedicated personnel and qualified staff, budget restrictions, and a lack of interest as their barriers to deploying AI.

The DIR recommends that the Texas legislature provide guidance for distributed ledger and blockchain technology best practices.

“I applaud the hard work and effort of state agencies which, along with the support of the Texas Legislature, drive the state of Texas to lead the nation in delivering a secure, digital government through well-designed, innovative, and efficient technology solutions,” Crawford said.

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