Gain Tools to Help Protect Elections from Cyber Threats from this Webinar

The National Association of Counties offers a webinar on cybersecurity and elections.


Protecting Elections from Cybersecurity Threats: Resources to Help Counties

Jun. 21, 2018
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
From NACo:

Based on recent published reports Counties have become increasingly concerned with the potential for threats and possible vulnerabilities in the coming election season. Cyber threats and I.T. systems manipulation is a growing concern – not only for county election officials but the public trust as well.

Counties are looking for assurances and resources to help insure smooth elections in 2018 and beyond.

There is hope, and more importantly, there is help!

Presented by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Public Technology Institute (PTI) along with the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), this webinar will present an overview of the types of threats that local elections officials might expect, while providing resources – tips for incident response and remediation, tools for monitoring vulnerabilities and threats, leading practices for elections systems security – to help local officials make their elections systems more secure.

Lower Crime, Fewer Foreclosures, Faster Permitting…Data Tracking Contributes to County Performance

Prince George’s County’s transforming neighborhoods initiative has contributed to positive results through a CountyStat program focused on gathering and analyzing information from 3-1-1 calls and other sources.

The National Association of Counties article, Building Trust: Performance Metrics in Counties, profiles performance management programs in county governments in Maryland, North Carolina, and Illinois.

NACo writes:

Counties across the country are in a continuous process of performance improvement. From running local health departments to overseeing elections, counties deliver a variety of services and represent an industry of half a trillion dollars in annual operations. Performance metrics have become especially important for counties in face of rising state and federal mandates, decreasing funding shared by states with counties and multiplying state limitations on counties’ ability to raise revenue.

The presentation by Prince George’s CountyStat Director Ben Birge shared several ways that his county program has been able to deliver results, including public safety and customer service outcomes.

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Prince George’s CountyStat program offers service improvements based on data analysis.

MACo’s Summer Conference will include an Open Government and Data Work Group Roundtable, led by Mike Morello of the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement, and Ben Birge of Prince George’s County Stat.

The conversation at MACo will include insight into how counties can improve outcomes and increase efficiency with existing resources and select the best targets for results from county performance tracking.

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The National Association of Counties survey found that data collection and metric identification to be top hurdles to county government performance improvement programs.

The National Association of Counties found that the biggest hurdles to data analysis for county governments were data gathering and identifying metrics. At MACo, the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement will offer Round Table will bring forward for conversation:

  • Free data available from the State of Maryland, and
  • Metrics that make the biggest difference to your county’s bottom line

The Round Table will be held on Wednesday, August 15, from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm at the Roland E Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. To attend the Open Government Work Group Round Table, register for the MACo Summer Conference. Daily registration options are available.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

A Look at the State’s 2019 Capital Budget

The Maryland Department of Legislative Service’s 90 Day Report, a review of legislation passed during the General Assembly’s last term, includes an overview of the capital budget which is relevant to Maryland’s county governments.

The Department of Legislative Service’s annual review of legislation passed during the General Assembly’s most recent term is a handy tool for understanding policy changes. It is also a quick way to keep up-to-date on the State’s capital budget.

The State’s capital budget is relevant to county governments in at least two ways. First, county governments are the recipients of state capital funding. These include funds for  local projects identified by the General Assembly, and school construction dollars.

A second reason for county interest in the State budget is that the State’s capital budget reveal the State’s ability and/or willingness to take on debt to invest in infrastructure projects. The State’s financial health and fiscal policies may be an indication of economic trends that have been or will be experienced also in Maryland’s counties. And, a sense of the State’s capital budget expenditures can help counties predict whether local capital funding may be increased in future years, or threatened.

School Construction Capital Funding

The General Assembly passed a fiscal 2019 capital program totaling $4.622 billion, according to the Department of Legislative Services. Less than $100 million of the capital budget is directed toward local projects, and about $440 million is provided for school construction.

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Maryland Department of Legislative Services’ 90 Day Report, “FY 2019 Capital Program Uses.”

The school construction capital funding includes the following:

For public schools:

  • Public School Construction Program $313,900,000 (where most state contributions to K-12 school construction come from)
  • Aging Schools Program: $6,109,000 (generally for smaller repair-type projects to keep older schools up-to-date)
  • Supplemental Capital Grant Program $68,200,000 (a special program to help school systems with high enrollment and a high number of relocatable classrooms)
  • Public School Safety Improvements $20,000,000
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Improvements $15,000,000

For Private Schools:

  • Nonpublic Aging Schools Program $3,500,000
  • Nonpublic Schools Safety Improvements $3,500,000

State Capital Budget Spending

The fiscal 2019 capital program totals $4.622 billion, slightly more than the fiscal 2018 capital program, which totaled $4.579 billion. In both years, the Capital Debt Affordability Committee (CDAC)  recommended that no more than $995 million in new general obligation bonds be issued for each year in the five year planning cycle. As described by the Department of Legislative Services with regard to the CDAC’s 2017 report,

The recommendation, the same recommendation made by the committee in its previous two annual reports, is intended to slow the growth in debt service costs and provide additional debt capacity in the out-years. –Department of Legislative Services 90 Day Report

In both years, the General Assembly’s Spending Affordability Committee acknowledged this advisory recommendation, but instead of limiting new issuances to $995 million, the General Assembly implemented a 1% cap on new issuances, using the fiscal 2016 level of $1.045 billion as the starting point.

As described by the Department of Legislative Services, the Spending Affordability Committee (SAC) was concerned about limiting debt growth considering the increased cost of construction – something also experienced firsthand by county governments building schools.

While supporting the objective to slow the growth in debt service costs and reduce the debt service to revenue ratio, SAC was concerned that the CDAC recommendation to freeze the authorization level through the planning period would reduce the purchasing power of the capital program due to the impact of construction inflation. –Department of Legislative Services 90 Day Report


The Maryland Consolidated Capital Bond Loan program for fiscal 2019 implements the 1% cap adopted by the Spending Affordability Committee.

See the 90 Day Report’s Capital Budget Summary for more information about the State’s capital budget for 2019.


Countdown to July 1 for New Rules in School Construction

The General Assembly passed landmark legislation in school construction this year, which included many reforms counties have sought for years. With the law going into effect July 1, which county will be the first to make a move?


School is almost out for summer. While students are on vacation, many school systems dig in to facility updates and renovations for the coming year and review long-range plans for school construction.

The earth is shifting below those school systems, this summer, with new rules in school construction, passed by the General Assembly this year, taking effect on July 1. The 21st Century School Facilities Act makes many changes to school construction law. One of the areas of change is in the State’s rules for private-public partnerships.

Public-private partnerships in school construction have long been an area of interest of county governments. Counties struggle to ensure that school system needs are met, even as costs are increasing and the amount of available State funding is limited.

P3s may hold promise as a cost-effective method for school construction, a way to stretch public funding to meet the needs of Maryland’s students. While current State law already allows P3s for school construction, very few have gotten off the ground. MACo has pointed to hurdles in state law that make these arrangements difficult to achieve, and has urged State support for piloting these programs.

The legislation the passed this year, which was developed through a Commission that included county government representation, answers many of those concerns, by expanding authorities for county governments and school boards, reducing regulation of alternative financing, and creating a P3 pilot program.

MACo has assembled is a chart describing some of changes in school construction public-private partnership laws that will take effect July 1, 2018. View the chart of changes to alternative financing that will begin on July 1.

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Excerpt from MACo’s chart on changes to alternative financing laws that will take effect July 1.

MACo is currently working with one county government seeking to employ some of these new provisions for upcoming construction projects, and will continue coverage as counties take advantage of their new flexibility.

For more information about the bill, see The 21st Century School Facilities Act and the Department of Legislative Services’ fiscal and policy analysis.

Boxed Out? Criminal History Checks and County Employment

The Maryland Association of County Human Resources Officers sponsors an educational session on ban-the-box employment practices.

Each year, studies show that approximately 15,000 people return from prison to communities across Maryland. According to advocates, many individuals re-entering society find that criminal records and low educational levels can be barriers to mainstream employment.

Several counties have passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking about past criminal convictions as part of the hiring process. However, those governments that have not worked under these policies may wonder how they affect hiring for security-sensitive roles, and positions with minors.

Advocates describe the positive repercussions that banning the box can have on prisoner re-entry into society. County government human resources professionals operating under the laws can share what has changed — and what hasn’t, in a post ban-the-box world. County government officials not operating under ban-the-box laws may ask questions.

Jacia T. Smith, Esq., Deputy Director, Human Resources Operations, City of Baltimore will provide insight into how the City of Baltimore has implemented ban-the-box legislation.
Caryn York, Executive Director, Job Opportunities Task Force will share perspective and data on ban-the-box laws and policies.

Learn about ban-the-box and the particular county effects in this MACo Summer Conference Session. Check the box on this panel on Friday, August 17, 2018 at MACo’s Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: