State CIOs Face Balancing Act In 2013

Annual survey finds state CIOs making more progress with cloud computing but struggling with big data projects.

Patience Wait, Contributor

October 23, 2012

4 Min Read

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IW500: 15 Top Government Tech Innovators

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CIOs in state government are better at aligning IT governance with their states' goals than they are at managing state IT investments, according to the results of a new survey.

The survey, conducted annually by the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), TechAmerica, and Grant Thornton, addressed a range of issues, including funding, cloud computing, mobility, and big data initiatives. State CIOs "must maintain a balancing act, not allowing either the old or the new to dominate their attention," according to the report.

When asked about the alignment of their statewide IT governance with state goals, 57% of CIO respondents indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied, and 19% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Yet, when asked about effectiveness in managing IT investments throughout their lifecycle, 45% were satisfied or very satisfied, and 27% were dissatisfied.

The search for funding for IT capital investments is leading state CIOs to pursue public-private partnerships. Almost half of respondents (47%) have at least one such arrangement, and 19% plan to pursue them.

The push to consolidate IT resources--everything from email systems to data centers--shows little change from last year's survey. Thirty percent say their consolidation is done, and 33% reaped the savings they expected. Some fared better, others worse. Fifteen percent enjoyed savings greater expected, but 11% fell short of expectations. More than a quarter (27%) had not measured the savings.

[ Read State Agencies Need A Big Data Strategy. ]

State agencies still have work to do in delivering on the promise of open government. Although 90% or more provide state budgets, information on state spending, and contract awards online, a much smaller group, 39%, provide open data on government activities.

State CIOs are involved in efforts to modernize and integrate various healthcare and human services systems. The efforts furthest along are those for unemployment insurance and claims, with 20% completed and 49% underway. Health insurance exchanges are moving more slowly; just 8% of CIO respondents have completed them, while 73% say the work is ongoing. No respondents have finished setting up their health insurance and benefits exchange; for 47%, the work is ongoing.

Although 57% of respondents see mobility and mobile apps as essential or high-priority, 11%--almost twice the number in 2011 (6%)--now see them as low priority. The study's authors theorize that part of the reason for the shift is that greater attention is being paid to other issues and that mobility has become more commonplace. On the other hand, 32% of respondents said their organizations are unprepared to deploy and support mobile devices and applications. In 2011, only 24% said they were not ready.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said their states have bring-your-own-device policies. Only 6% have policies that prohibit BYOD. More than half the respondents (54%) say their state governments have policies and standards for social media. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are used moderately or widely by more than 80% of respondents. Although just 10% of CIO respondents consider social media essential, 41% said it will be, in the future.

Big data is addressed, directly or indirectly, by the IT strategic plan of 35% of respondents. At the other end of the spectrum, big data is not part of a strategic plan for 23% of respondents. The biggest group, 36% of respondents, is evaluating how to proceed.

One area of significant advancement is cloud computing. In 2011 and 2012, all respondents were at some stage of cloud adoption, and none had decided against it. This year, 56% have some applications in the cloud and are considering using others, compared to 35% last year. The most common cloud-based services are e-mail and collaboration (64%), storage (48%), and geographic information systems (48%). Almost two-thirds of respondents, 65%, used an existing procurement vehicle to acquire cloud services, while 44% created a specific cloud contract.

In the Getting Started With Big Data webcast, InformationWeek Government will help government IT professionals understand the steps required to support large data volumes and find out how to apply that data to improve government operations and offer new public services. It happens Oct. 25.

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About the Author(s)

Patience Wait


Washington-based Patience Wait contributes articles about government IT to InformationWeek.

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