A state cybersecurity task force is preparing for one last discussion early next month before they sign off on their recommendations in a final report to the governor.

Dan Sipes, deputy chief information officer for the North Dakota Information Technology Department,  said the meeting will be held Nov. 2 in the Rough Rider Room at the state Capitol.

“Our goal will be to go over the details,” he said.

The report will contain recommendations for Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s 2017-19 executive budget.

Sipes said some of the items may come with funding requests, but others involve policy adjustments and changes that could be made to improve operations.

Dalrymple created the task force last year, asking its members to review the state’s cybersecurity policies and develop recommendations to provide better security to state IT networks, as well as the data they store and utilize.

Sipes said the ball would be in the governor’s court as to what, if anything, he places in his budget. Dalrymple also could choose to pass the recommendations along to the next governor for consideration after next month’s election.

Some areas of discussion brought up in the task force are ongoing concerns over cybersecurity that the agency will also incorporate into ITD’s regular committee discussions, he said.

Mineral acres to be auctioned online

For the second time this year, the leasing of state mineral acres will be conducted online.

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The North Dakota Department of Trust Lands will begin a weeklong mineral acre lease auction beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday via www.energynet.com. The auction will end shortly before noon Nov. 1.

A total of 5,796 acres are available in six counties: Billings, Burke, Divide, Golden Valley, McKenzie and Mercer.

Department officials have previously said holding the quarterly auctions online brings advantages such as access to more complete information while providing the time and ability to thoroughly research acreage in which parties may be interested.

The land department held an online auction in May. The department has been considering moving them entirely online at some point in the future.

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Information on mineral acre lease auctions and auction results can be found at www.land.nd.gov.

Capitol Grounds project nearly done

The crane that’s become a familiar sight on the North Dakota Capitol Grounds will be gone shortly after Election Day as the construction project nears completion.

John Boyle, director of North Dakota Facility Management, said the $1.3 million Capitol steps project is on track to be completed by Nov. 15.

Fort Scott, Kan.-based Mid-Continental Restoration Co. is doing the work, which involved removing hundreds of granite blocks on the staircase to replace the waterproof membrane beneath. Water had begun to leak into the storage area underneath the steps.

The granite blocks, each weighing hundreds of pounds, were removed one by one using the crane beginning in July and numbered so they could be placed back in their proper order. Boyle said more than three dozen of the blocks were replaced as part of the project.

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(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)