How Can State and Local Agencies Better Collaborate on Cybersecurity?

Some state governments, such as Massachusetts, have established formal plans to work with localities within their states on cybersecurity. However, as ransomware attacks proliferate across the country and strike big cities and small towns alike, state-level organizations say there needs to be greater IT security coordination between states and municipalities. Last month, the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers released a report, “Stronger Together: State and Local Cybersecurity Collaboration,” designed to showcase best practices for such collaboration.

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Housing Authority of Cook County

The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) serves over 12,000 households, including seniors, persons with disabilities and families with children, to promote adequate and affordable housing, economic opportunity and a suitable living environment free from discrimination.

OTHER ARTICLES

COVID-19: How do we get out of this quagmire?

Article | May 27, 2021

The COVID-19 virus (C19) pandemic is turning out to be the event of the century. Even World War seems timid in comparison. We are in the 4th month of the virus (in non-China countries) and have gone past the lockdown in many places. Isn’t it time we re-think the approach? What if there is another wave of C19 coming soon? What if C19 is the first of many such events in the future? Before we get into analysis and solution design, summarizing the C19 quirks: While a large section of the affected population is asymptomatic, for some it can be lethal There isn’t clarity on all the ways C19 spreads It’s known to affect the lungs, heart, and kidneys in patients with weak immunity It has been hard to identify a definitive pattern of the virus. Some observations in managing the C19 situation are: With no vaccine in sight, the end of this epidemic looks months or years away Health care personnel in hospitals need additional protection to treat patients Lockdowns lead to severe economic hardship and its repeated application can be damaging Quarantining people has an economic cost, especially in the weaker sections of society If one takes a step back to re-think about this, we are primarily solving 2 problems: Minimise deaths: Minimise the death of C19 and non-C19 patients in this period Maximise economic growth: The GDP output/growth should equal or higher than pre-C19 levels One needs to achieve the 2 goals in an environment of rising number of C19 cases. Minimise deaths An approach that can be applied to achieve this is: Data driven health care capacity planning Build a health repository of all the citizens with details like pre-existing diseases, comorbidity, health status, etc. The repository needs to be updated quarterly to account for patient data changes This health repository data is combined with the C19 profile (disease susceptibility) and/or other seasonal diseases to determine the healthcare capacity (medicines, doctors, etc.) needed The healthcare capacity deficit/excess needs to be analysed in categories (beds, equipment, medicine, personnel, etc.) and regions (city, state, etc.) and actions taken accordingly Regular capacity management will ensure patients aren’t deprived of timely treatment. In addition, such planning helps in the equitable distribution of healthcare across regions and optimising health care costs. Healthcare sector is better prepared to scale-up/down their operations Based on the analysis citizens can be informed about their probability of needing hospitalisation on contracting C19. Citizens with a higher health risk on C19 infection should be personally trained on prevention and tips to manage the disease on occurrence The diagram below explains the process Mechanism to increase hospital capacity without cost escalation Due to the nature of C19, health personnel are prone to infection and their safety is a big issue. There is also a shortage of hospitable beds available. Even non-C19 patients aren’t getting the required treatment because health personnel seek it as a risk. This resulted in, healthcare costs going up and availability reducing. To mitigate such issues, hospital layouts may need to be altered (as shown in the diagram below). The altered layout improves hospital capacity and availability of health care personnel. It also reduces the need for the arduous C19 protection procedures. Such procedures reduce the patient treatment capacity and puts a toll on hospital management. Over a period, the number of recovered C19 persons are going to increase significantly. We need to start tapping into their services to reduce the burden on the system. The hospitals need to be divided into 3 zones. The hospital zoning illustration shown below explains how this could be done. In the diagram, patients are shown in green and health care personnel are in light red. **Assumption: Infected and recovered C19 patients are immune to the disease. This is not clearly established Better enforcement of social factors The other reason for high number of infections in countries like India is a glaring disregard in following C19 rules in public places and the laxity in enforcement. Enforcement covers 2 parts, tracking incidents of violation and penalising the behaviour. Government should use modern mechanisms like crowd sourcing to track incidents and ride on the growing public fear to ensure penalty enforcement succeeds. The C19 pandemic has exposed governance limitations in not just following C19 rules, but also in other areas of public safety like road travel, sanitation, dietary habits, etc. Maximise economic growth The earlier lockdown has strained the economy. Adequate measures need to be taken to get the economy back on track. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are: One needs to evaluate the development needs of the country in different categories like growth impetus factors (e.g. building roads, electricity capacity increase), social factors (e.g. waste water treatment plants, health care capacity), and environmental factors (e.g. solar energy generation, EV charging stations). Governments need to accelerate funding in such projects so that that large numbers of unemployed people are hired and trained. Besides giving an immediate boost to the ailing economy such projects have a future payback. The governments should not get bogged down by the huge fiscal deficit such measures can create. Such a mechanism to get money out in the economy is far than better measures like QE (Quantitative Easing) or free money transfer into people’s bank accounts Certain items like smartphone, internet, masks, etc. have become critical (for work, education, critical government announcements). It’s essential to subsidise or reduce taxes so that these items are affordable and accessible to everyone without a financial impact The government shouldn’t put too many C19 related controls on service offerings (e.g. shops, schools, restaurants, cabs). Putting many controls increases the cost of the service which neither the seller not buyer is willing or able to pay. Where controls are put, the Govt should bear the costs or reduce taxes or figure out a mechanism so that the cost can be absorbed. An event like the C19 pandemic is a great opportunity to rationalise development imbalances in the country. Government funding should be channelized more to under-developed regions. This drives growth in regions that need it most. It also prevents excess migration that has resulted in uncontrolled and bad urbanisation that has made C19 management hard (guidelines like social distance are impossible to follow) Post-C19 lockdown, the business environment (need for sanitizers, masks, home furniture) has changed. To make people employable in new flourishing businesses there could be a need to re-skill people. Such an initiative can be taken up by the public/private sector The number of C19 infected asymptomatic patients is going to keep increasing. Building an economy around them (existing, recovered C19 patients) may not be a far-fetched idea. E.g. jobs for C19 infected daily wage earners, C19 infected taxi drivers to transport C19 patients, etc. In the last 100 years, mankind has conquered the destructive aspects of many a disease and natural mishap (hurricanes, floods, etc.). Human lives lost in such events has dramatically dropped over the years and our preparedness has never been this good. Nature seems to have caught up with mankind’s big strides in science and technology. C19 has been hard to reign in with no breakthrough yet. The C19 pandemic is here to stay for the near future. The more we accept this reality and change ourselves to live with it amidst us, the faster we can return to a new normal. A quote from Edward Jenner (inventor of Small Pox) seems apt in the situation – “The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases”.

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Emerging Technology, Government Business

Could the next infrastructure bill include funding for public technology systems?

Article | October 7, 2022

The House of Representatives laid out an infrastructure plan on June 18 – an expensive one with a price tag of approximately $1.5 trillion. It will not, of course, pass Congress in its current state, but it promises to start the critical and overdue conversation in Washington about infrastructure. But, there’s an omission that hopefully will be addressed and debated in Congress. The new plan makes little mention of funding for America’s outdated public technology infrastructure. Yet, the nation’s technology is a critical component of its infrastructure. Some leaders hope to make Congress aware of the challenges public officials face as they try to manage with old legacy technology systems that should have been replaced a decade ago. Broadband will likely be addressed, but all kinds of other technology assets need attention as well. When taxpayers think about what infrastructure should include, there is not a consensus. Roads and bridges are certainly considered as public assets and will be included in every discussion of infrastructure. Water, power, schools, health care, and even the Postal Service are named in the new plan that passed the House of Representatives. But, the new bill, which is called the Moving Forward Act, does not mention government’s basic technology infrastructure. One definition of infrastructure is “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Surely, technology falls into that category. There’s no argument that America’s global economic future depends on its technology infrastructure as well as its transportation infrastructure. But, public officials in governmental entities throughout the country attempt to provide services on old legacy systems that are decades past replacement stages. Public databases and networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks. The technology found in cities, counties, school districts, and governmental agencies is more than old and inadequate it is simply unreliable and in some instances could be considered dangerous. In a world of ‘big data’, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, apps, the Internet of Things (IoT), and extreme security requirements, government technology assets lag too far behind in America. Public officials don’t have funding to replace the antiquated technology systems. As Congress debates infrastructure reform, technology should be a part of the conversation. Those in agreement that the national debt does not need another $1.5 trillion hit may advocate for ways to encourage private sector funding for the many needs of infrastructure. Collaborative initiatives could be structured in the final infrastructure bill so that there are incentives for alternative funding and private sector expertise, as well as guidelines to protect taxpayers and public agencies. The inclusion of technology needs in any infrastructure discussion is, at the very least, worthy of discussion. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Government Business

GSA pilots AI for regulatory streamlining

Article | July 11, 2022

The General Services Administration plans to run an artificial-intelligence-based pilot program to help speed up how agencies procure innovative and commercial solutions. The pilot will use a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to help GSA learn how to streamline the acquisition process, fast-track vendor selection timelines, simplify contract administration for innovative commercial items. FEDSIM is working with GSA’s Technology Transformation Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the sponsoring customer, to find a software-as-a-service solution that CMS regulatory staff can use to modernize regulatory workflows.

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TOP 5 TIPS FOR ADOPTING ENTERPRISE MACHINE LEARNING

Article | June 18, 2020

When you first got your business off the ground, you may or may not have paid much attention to the technologies that would be available to you in the years to come—like machine learning. Machine learning was the stuff of science fiction just decades ago; now it’s practically everywhere. So, what is machine learning? Simply put, machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence in which computer algorithms learn from large datasets in order to make more accurate predictions over time. Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it poses numerous benefits to business owners—assuming it’s used the right way. Here are five tips for successfully adopting machine learning technologies in your day-to-day operations.

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Spotlight

Housing Authority of Cook County

The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) serves over 12,000 households, including seniors, persons with disabilities and families with children, to promote adequate and affordable housing, economic opportunity and a suitable living environment free from discrimination.

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Government Business

Indigov Receives $25 Million in Series B Funding

Indigov | May 31, 2022

Tusk Venture Partners, 8VC, Wicklow Capital, Align Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners participated in a $25 million Series B investment round for Indigov, the premier constituent service platform for public officials. This takes the total amount raised by the company to more than $38.3 million. Indigov is a multi-channel constituent experience management platform that helps public officials organize, respond to, and engage those they serve proactively. It was launched in 2019. Officials may get real-time insight into the pulse of their constituency thanks to the platform's rich reporting and analytics. Indigov is also used by the federal, state, and local governments to manage casework and triage incoming communications that might otherwise clog their inboxes. Indigov presently helps hundreds of congressional, state, and municipal leaders who represent more than 150 million people in the United States. Americans have relied on their government for aid more than ever in the last two years during the pandemic, from obtaining COVID and unemployment resources to expressing political expression. In general, the number of contacts with public authorities has gone up five times in the last ten years. This is partly because people now have more ways to get in touch, such as through email and social media. Staffing, budgets, and technology, on the other hand, have stayed unchanged. This has put a lot of pressure on employees, as well as disillusionment among voters and a loss of faith in our government. The U.S. government receives close to 53 billion requests a year from the public, the vast majority of which are managed in spreadsheets, email, physical paper, and outdated legacy databases. No company could function managing the level of communications public officials receive with the tools they use - when they fail, we all fail." Alex Kouts, CEO and Founder of Indigov Alex further added that these touch points are the democratic user experience, and they must be improved. Every day, they collaborate with government authorities to provide a service that not only meets but exceeds, private market expectations. They are making a whole new category of software to change the way people interact with the government from the ground up.

Read More

Emerging Technology

SDI Presence Announces Enhanced Advisory Services Delivery Model and Practice Leadership Promotions

SDI Presence LLC | May 16, 2022

SDI Presence LLC (SDI), an IT consultancy and managed services provider (MSP), announces the update of its technology-focused delivery model to best meet the changing needs of its government technology clients. These new positions – along with a new team structure and expanded delivery methodologies – will allow SDI to better share our depth of knowledge in government enterprise technologies by leveraging our broad experience working with municipalities, special districts, counties, and state government agencies." Jonathan Gair, Vice President of Operations at SDI Presence SDI's shift toward a horizontally focused practice model is designed to best position the firm's subject matter expertise to directly impact customer value. Issues with designing, configuring, and testing systems tend to re-occur across technology partners, leading to frustration, inefficiencies, and sometimes flawed deployments. With its new model, SDI is positioning its expert Practice Leads to deliver industry-specific and well-honed methodologies, content, test cases, and design planning services, supported by the SDI consultant team. "SDI is growing," Jonathan Gair added. "We did not want to lose sight of what makes us unique: our local presence. Now, our directors will be more available to help clients improve services, while our practice leads maintain ownership of the day-to-day project oversight role." To lead this enhanced Advisory practice, SDI has promoted four experienced SDI personnel to the newly created positions of Practice Leads, with each serving as the leader of a specific technology area: IT Strategic Planning: Project Manager Lee Curtis will build on his over 40 years of experience leading over 50 IT Strategic Plans and Assessments, and previous experience as a public sector IT Director and CIO. Land Management Systems (LMS): Project Manager Rick Keyes, a 30-year veteran who specializes in IT and vendor management with state governments and holds PMP and Prosci OCM certifications, will lead the Land Management System (LMS) practice. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Project Managers David Gougis and Wendell Yacur will co-lead SDI's ERP practice, building on their combined half century of experience working as advisors to the public sector space. Wendell Yacur is a 30-year IT professional with a focus on management consulting for state governments, while David Gougis has more than 30 years of experience in both technology and finance consulting and as held Lead roles for public sector agencies. Supporting each Lead will be a regionally focused Director of Operations that is dedicated to client success. "I truly believe that Rick, Lee, David and Wendell represent one of the strongest, most experienced teams available to organizations," said Hardik Bhatt, President and Chief Growth Office of SDI Presence. "Their backgrounds in procurements, implementations and strategic planning make them subject matter experts in systems that often touch all departments within an organization, meaning they can help facilitate even the toughest, most challenging projects." These promotions occur as SDI Presence is seeing substantial growth in its government and utilities practices. Seasoned cloud and IT managed services industry leaders Hardik Bhatt, Prasad Alavilli, and Sunil Thomas recently joined SDI, as the firm aggressively builds out legacy IT modernization solutions. In 2021, SDI announced that the firm secured an infusion of private equity capital with Abry Partners, a Boston, Massachusetts-based private equity firm, to fund its growth. About SDI Presence LLC SDI Presence LLC is an IT consultancy and managed services provider (MSP) that leverages its strong team presence to advance our clients to a secure digital enterprise. With a 25-year corporate resume, SDI delivers strategic managed services, IT consulting, and hybrid infrastructure solutions to optimize our clients' technology environments. SDI is a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), with a portfolio of clients that includes some of the nation's largest airports, utilities, commercial real estate portfolios, and government agencies.

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Cybersecurity

Carahsoft Receives Exclusive 2022 BlackBerry NALA Distributor Partner of the Year Award at BlackBerry Partner Cybersecurity Sales

Carahsoft | April 19, 2022

Carahsoft Technology Corp., the Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider announced that it has been named the 2022 BlackBerry NALA Distributor of the Year. On April 5-6, 2022, BlackBerry hosted a virtual partner sales event with the theme “The Power of…”, which highlighted the power of partnership and vision, joint market opportunities, and technical strategy. The virtual event attracted more than 300 global solution providers, MSSPs, and distributors. We value our long-standing partnership with Blackberry and are honored to be named the Distributor Partner of the Year for North America and Latin America for 2022.” Michael Shrader, Vice President of Innovative and Intelligence Solutions at Carahsoft BlackBerry recognized winners in four categories, and three regions representing North America and Latin America; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific (APAC). Award winners were selected from among the thousands of BlackBerry partners based on their commitment to innovation and differentiation of BlackBerry cybersecurity products and brand in the market. The award winners also align with BlackBerry’s strategy and commitment to driving exponential new business growth. “We are thrilled to honor these outstanding partners and extremely proud to work with the Carahsoft team to ensure our customers are both secure and protected amidst a threat landscape that continues to increase in both scale and complexity. We look forward to building on our shared success in the months and years to come.” Colleen McMillan, Vice President, Global Channel Sales, Cybersecurity. About Carahsoft Carahsoft Technology Corp. is The Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider, supporting Public Sector organizations across Federal, State and Local Government agencies and Education and Healthcare markets. As the Master Government Aggregator for our vendor partners, we deliver solutions for Cybersecurity, MultiCloud, DevSecOps, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Open Source, Customer Experience and Engagement, and more. Working with resellers, systems integrators and consultants, our sales and marketing teams provide industry leading IT products, services and training through hundreds of contract vehicles.

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Government Business

Indigov Receives $25 Million in Series B Funding

Indigov | May 31, 2022

Tusk Venture Partners, 8VC, Wicklow Capital, Align Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners participated in a $25 million Series B investment round for Indigov, the premier constituent service platform for public officials. This takes the total amount raised by the company to more than $38.3 million. Indigov is a multi-channel constituent experience management platform that helps public officials organize, respond to, and engage those they serve proactively. It was launched in 2019. Officials may get real-time insight into the pulse of their constituency thanks to the platform's rich reporting and analytics. Indigov is also used by the federal, state, and local governments to manage casework and triage incoming communications that might otherwise clog their inboxes. Indigov presently helps hundreds of congressional, state, and municipal leaders who represent more than 150 million people in the United States. Americans have relied on their government for aid more than ever in the last two years during the pandemic, from obtaining COVID and unemployment resources to expressing political expression. In general, the number of contacts with public authorities has gone up five times in the last ten years. This is partly because people now have more ways to get in touch, such as through email and social media. Staffing, budgets, and technology, on the other hand, have stayed unchanged. This has put a lot of pressure on employees, as well as disillusionment among voters and a loss of faith in our government. The U.S. government receives close to 53 billion requests a year from the public, the vast majority of which are managed in spreadsheets, email, physical paper, and outdated legacy databases. No company could function managing the level of communications public officials receive with the tools they use - when they fail, we all fail." Alex Kouts, CEO and Founder of Indigov Alex further added that these touch points are the democratic user experience, and they must be improved. Every day, they collaborate with government authorities to provide a service that not only meets but exceeds, private market expectations. They are making a whole new category of software to change the way people interact with the government from the ground up.

Read More

Emerging Technology

SDI Presence Announces Enhanced Advisory Services Delivery Model and Practice Leadership Promotions

SDI Presence LLC | May 16, 2022

SDI Presence LLC (SDI), an IT consultancy and managed services provider (MSP), announces the update of its technology-focused delivery model to best meet the changing needs of its government technology clients. These new positions – along with a new team structure and expanded delivery methodologies – will allow SDI to better share our depth of knowledge in government enterprise technologies by leveraging our broad experience working with municipalities, special districts, counties, and state government agencies." Jonathan Gair, Vice President of Operations at SDI Presence SDI's shift toward a horizontally focused practice model is designed to best position the firm's subject matter expertise to directly impact customer value. Issues with designing, configuring, and testing systems tend to re-occur across technology partners, leading to frustration, inefficiencies, and sometimes flawed deployments. With its new model, SDI is positioning its expert Practice Leads to deliver industry-specific and well-honed methodologies, content, test cases, and design planning services, supported by the SDI consultant team. "SDI is growing," Jonathan Gair added. "We did not want to lose sight of what makes us unique: our local presence. Now, our directors will be more available to help clients improve services, while our practice leads maintain ownership of the day-to-day project oversight role." To lead this enhanced Advisory practice, SDI has promoted four experienced SDI personnel to the newly created positions of Practice Leads, with each serving as the leader of a specific technology area: IT Strategic Planning: Project Manager Lee Curtis will build on his over 40 years of experience leading over 50 IT Strategic Plans and Assessments, and previous experience as a public sector IT Director and CIO. Land Management Systems (LMS): Project Manager Rick Keyes, a 30-year veteran who specializes in IT and vendor management with state governments and holds PMP and Prosci OCM certifications, will lead the Land Management System (LMS) practice. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Project Managers David Gougis and Wendell Yacur will co-lead SDI's ERP practice, building on their combined half century of experience working as advisors to the public sector space. Wendell Yacur is a 30-year IT professional with a focus on management consulting for state governments, while David Gougis has more than 30 years of experience in both technology and finance consulting and as held Lead roles for public sector agencies. Supporting each Lead will be a regionally focused Director of Operations that is dedicated to client success. "I truly believe that Rick, Lee, David and Wendell represent one of the strongest, most experienced teams available to organizations," said Hardik Bhatt, President and Chief Growth Office of SDI Presence. "Their backgrounds in procurements, implementations and strategic planning make them subject matter experts in systems that often touch all departments within an organization, meaning they can help facilitate even the toughest, most challenging projects." These promotions occur as SDI Presence is seeing substantial growth in its government and utilities practices. Seasoned cloud and IT managed services industry leaders Hardik Bhatt, Prasad Alavilli, and Sunil Thomas recently joined SDI, as the firm aggressively builds out legacy IT modernization solutions. In 2021, SDI announced that the firm secured an infusion of private equity capital with Abry Partners, a Boston, Massachusetts-based private equity firm, to fund its growth. About SDI Presence LLC SDI Presence LLC is an IT consultancy and managed services provider (MSP) that leverages its strong team presence to advance our clients to a secure digital enterprise. With a 25-year corporate resume, SDI delivers strategic managed services, IT consulting, and hybrid infrastructure solutions to optimize our clients' technology environments. SDI is a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), with a portfolio of clients that includes some of the nation's largest airports, utilities, commercial real estate portfolios, and government agencies.

Read More

Cybersecurity

Carahsoft Receives Exclusive 2022 BlackBerry NALA Distributor Partner of the Year Award at BlackBerry Partner Cybersecurity Sales

Carahsoft | April 19, 2022

Carahsoft Technology Corp., the Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider announced that it has been named the 2022 BlackBerry NALA Distributor of the Year. On April 5-6, 2022, BlackBerry hosted a virtual partner sales event with the theme “The Power of…”, which highlighted the power of partnership and vision, joint market opportunities, and technical strategy. The virtual event attracted more than 300 global solution providers, MSSPs, and distributors. We value our long-standing partnership with Blackberry and are honored to be named the Distributor Partner of the Year for North America and Latin America for 2022.” Michael Shrader, Vice President of Innovative and Intelligence Solutions at Carahsoft BlackBerry recognized winners in four categories, and three regions representing North America and Latin America; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific (APAC). Award winners were selected from among the thousands of BlackBerry partners based on their commitment to innovation and differentiation of BlackBerry cybersecurity products and brand in the market. The award winners also align with BlackBerry’s strategy and commitment to driving exponential new business growth. “We are thrilled to honor these outstanding partners and extremely proud to work with the Carahsoft team to ensure our customers are both secure and protected amidst a threat landscape that continues to increase in both scale and complexity. We look forward to building on our shared success in the months and years to come.” Colleen McMillan, Vice President, Global Channel Sales, Cybersecurity. About Carahsoft Carahsoft Technology Corp. is The Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider, supporting Public Sector organizations across Federal, State and Local Government agencies and Education and Healthcare markets. As the Master Government Aggregator for our vendor partners, we deliver solutions for Cybersecurity, MultiCloud, DevSecOps, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Open Source, Customer Experience and Engagement, and more. Working with resellers, systems integrators and consultants, our sales and marketing teams provide industry leading IT products, services and training through hundreds of contract vehicles.

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