Fairfax County has received two Governor's Technology Awards, presented during a ceremony at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in Richmond on Sept. 5. The awards recognize the use of information technology to drive innovation and protect information, specifically for the county's new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office and next generation cyber security.
Winners were named in nine categories as judged by a panel of Virginia government information technology experts.
“With these awards, we honor the innovative ways that state and local government and universities are using technology to solve problems, increase efficiency and reduce costs,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “I congratulate our honorees for their leadership and commitment to making government work better for all Virginians.”
Centralized Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) Program Benefits
The first of its kind in Virginia, the county's FOIA program is leading the way by coordinating all incoming FOIA requests to ensure legal compliance, transparency and efficient response. The Countywide FOIA Office was established in March 2017 to act as a single FOIA point of contact to the public; oversee policy, procedures, operations and training; and develop and manage a newly created centralized FOIA request tracking application (VFOIA Tracker). The VFOIA Tracker was implemented in January 2018 and is being utilized by more than 100 staff to efficiently and effectively track all incoming FOIA requests.
Fairfax County receives over 6,000 FOIA requests per year. Since the establishment of the office, benefits include:
- Shorter response times (one day less on average)
- Reduced record request costs through increased fee waivers
- Popular public records proactively made available online in user-friendly formats
“This award highlights how technology and cross-agency collaboration can strengthen the ways that we engage with the public on government business,” said Amanda Kastl, countywide FOIA officer.
Next Generation Cyber Security Protects Private Information
The Next Generation Security Program protects business' and residents' data and sensitive information. This builds upon the county's performance record of maintaining business continuity and service delivery with no data breaches.
In addition to protecting sensitive data, such as tax records and personally identifiable information, the program's mission is to develop and enforce security policies and use artificial intelligence software that constantly evolves to stay on pace with modern and emerging security threats.
Chief Information Security Officer Mike Dent explains that "as data moves both inside and outside the network, our suite of smart security tools is constantly monitoring and learning. This insight allows our dedicated team of information security experts to see beyond the obvious, detect problems and stop them before they can cause any harm."
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