Published April 1, 2020

2020 NACo Legislative Conference: February 28 – March 4, 2020

As is always the case at NACo conferences, the world of Technology was a busy one. We started with the CIO Forum /Tech Summit on the morning of February 28th at 9 a.m. and spent the day discussing best practices for county IT operations.

The first panel of presenters included Tony Sager and Curtis Dukes of the Center for Internet Security. If you are not already familiar with the CIS, your IT people need to be.  These folks are the Not for Profit organization that is the parent corporation of MS-ISAC and EI-ISAC.  They are the source of numerous FREE tools that your IT staff can make use of to assess the vulnerability of your systems.

This presentation dealt with a prioritized list of controls that you should be implementing on your systems.  Previously there was a list of recommendations that was difficult to know where to start.  The new guidance breaks the list down into three categories of recommended controls starting with the most critical low hanging fruit moving up to those recommendations that although valid may be out of reach for smaller organizations.  It gives an organization a road map of what to do first with the resources you can make available.  All local governments are targets for hackers so the stronger your defenses are, the less desirable target you make.  The further along the defense path you are, the more likely the hackers will more on to easier targets.

Information on this new prioritized list of security controls can be found at  https://www.cisecurity.org/controls/. I highly recommend this site, as it is targeted not only at the more technical members of MACo but also at the decision makers who need to understand the importance of the issues but not necessarily the details of how the defense is created.

The next panel was a robust discussion about how to apply the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards to real-life situations.  The panel included both industry representatives as well as a county CIO.  One of the primary topics was the pluses and minuses attached to migration of data and application hosting to the cloud.

The afternoon sessions also dealt with various topics of cybersecurity although from a more practical level.  There was a round table discussion that involved CIOs who’s counties had been hit with ransomware, how they recovered, and lessons learned.

One panel included discussions about new virus detection systems that use machine learning and behavior patterns to detect viruses rather just matching against known virus code. Another dealt with the resources that are available to counties to assess and improve their cybersecurity.  As is usually the case with the Tech Summit, it was a very informative day.

The Telecommunications & Technology (T&T) Steering Committee meeting was unfortunately scheduled at the same time as the NACo Executive Committee meeting, which I needed to attend, so the section below is a combination of a summary provided to me by NACo staff, notes Sean Higginbotham (Cascade County IT Director) took for me, and my discussions with committee members after the meeting.

The meeting was convened by Chairman J.D. Clark on February 29th at 1:30 p.m. and was not scheduled to have any resolutions heard during the meeting, as no interim policies had been submitted to the T&T committee prior to the deadline; no cross jurisdictional resolutions had been claimed by the chairman, nor any emergency resolutions submitted in advance of the meeting.

Telecommunications & Technology Business Meeting

Committee members heard from federal officials and policy experts on the latest telecommunications and technology policy issues. The steering committee reviewed upcoming legislation and regulations in the 116th Congress related to broadband coverage data, local franchising authority, and election cybersecurity. Steering committee members considered and voted on interim policy resolutions used to guide NACo’s advocacy efforts before Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.

What’s in Store for the 2020 Elections?

With concerns over cybersecurity, foreign influence, and aging technology, election administrators across the country are finalizing preparations needed to conduct a free and fair election. T&T committee members heard from federal and local elections officials about how they are working to improve the voting experience for all Americans.

Moderator: Matthew Weil, Director, Elections Project, Bipartisan Policy Center

Speakers:

  • Thomas Hicks, Chair, United States Election Assistance Commission
  • Geoffrey Hale, Director, Election Security Initiative, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Ricky Hatch, Auditor/Clerk, Weber County, Utah

Update from the Federal Communications Commission

Over the past year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has implemented a number of new authorizations to help expand and improve broadband infrastructure across the county including over $240 million for rural broadband investments and taking steps towards improving broadband data collection. During this session, members heard from senior FCC officials regarding their work to improve our nation’s broadband infrastructure.

  • Gregory Cooke, Chief, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Federal Communications Commission

For information on the FCC’s latest initiatives, programs and regulations, click here.

The Spectrum Management and Reallocation for Taxpayers (SMART) Act (S. 3246)

On January 29, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, John Kennedy (R-La.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Spectrum Management and Reallocation for Taxpayers (SMART) Act (S. 3246) ensures that the FCC has the authority to expedite the public auction and clearing of the C-Band, while protecting the current users. Public auction proceeds would be invested in rural broadband deployment and building Next Generation 9-1-1 networks. Some funds would also be used to cut the national deficit. For more information on the bill, click here.

  • Christianna Lewis Barnhart, Senior Technology and Telecommunications Counsel, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Resolutions for Consideration

No interim resolutions were submitted to be considered by the T&T Steering Committee; however, committee members approved an emergency resolution, which is included below. However, the resolution was separated out by the NACo Board of Directors and not included in the final interim resolutions packet adopted by the Board of Directors. The adopted interim resolutions can be found here.

Proposed Interim Resolution to Support Funding for NextGen 911 and Rural Broadband Through 3 C-Band Auction 4

Issue: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently authorized the auction of C-Band spectrum with a directive for the entirety of funds to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Proposed Policy: The National Association of Counties (NACo) supports the SMART Act (S. 3246) so long as funds are directed towards national deployment of NextGen 911 and also directed to unserved and underserved communities for rural broadband deployment while meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) definition of broadband speeds.

February 29, 2020

Approved | Telecommunications & Technology Steering Committee | 38-2

The emergency resolution passed at the T&T meeting did not follow the rules for the introduction of an emergency resolution as it was not provided in advance to committee members, as such, there was no functional ability to discuss the ramifications of the actions nor was it an emergent issue so it was appropriately removed from consideration.

Thank you for the continuing privilege of representing you on the NACo T&T Policy Steering Committee.

Commissioner Joe Briggs  |  Cascade County |  jbriggs@cascadecountymt.gov  |  (406) 454-6815