State CIOs Press Governance Efforts

In tight budget times, governance is essential for successful sharing of government information and services, says NASCIO report.
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In an effort to deliver better services in the face of diminished budgets, state and local governments are pooling together their funds and resources in cross-jurisdictional collaboration.

It's an unprecedented movement that the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is calling "a wave for the future that will only grow in emphasis." And central to their success, according to a new report released by NASCIO this week, is the importance governance plays as a key ingredient for successful sharing of government information and use of technology.

NASCIO probed the role governance activities play in IT decisions, asking CIOs to identify the functions of their state IT governance bodies. The findings show that 55% align IT with strategic business goals and objectives, 53% make decisions regarding enterprise IT policy, and 53% set enterprise architecture and standards review processes. Four out of 10 (39%) of IT governance bodies evaluate and approve IT investments, and an equal proportion determine IT investments and funding. However, only 29% engage with political leaders to support policies that use IT for economic growth and their state's quality of life.

The report provides several examples of effective governance. One is the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, which serves as a federal advisory committee to the U.S. Attorney General on justice information sharing issues. Global's main goal is to promote standards-based electronic information exchange, and its working groups are formed around issues that impact justice information sharing. Network Nebraska-Education is another example on the statewide level. The network interconnects public and private -- K-12 and higher education -- entities in Nebraska.

[ Former DOT CIO shares advice for aspiring IT leaders in government. Read 5 Habits Of Highly Effective Government IT Leaders. ]

On a broader scale, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is government-wide and used in all 50 states in some respect. NIEM, a community-driven, standards-based approach to exchanging information, has two levels of governance. The Executive Steering Council provides overall governance, while there is also governance in place within each domain responsible for establishing the domain's strategy and operations. This approach has made NIEM "a catalyst for cross-boundary, cross-jurisdictional collaboration," according to NASCIO.

NASCIO created a Cross-jurisdictional Collaboration Working Group in 2012 to explore the achievements of jurisdictions and agencies joining forces to "solve a problem, address a need, or pursue a new opportunity." It came up with nine elements describing effective collaborative practices, including access to shared technology and services, leveraging enterprise solutions, and providing better services to citizens. The tenth element, governance, was added to the list this year.

"As these collaboratives become more inclusive, they also become more complex. That's where best or emerging practices will become critical," David Behen, co-chair for NASCIO Cross-jurisdictional Collaboration Working Group and CIO for Michigan, said in a written statement. "We want to form collaboratives that will be successful right from the start -- and be able to sustain that success."

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