Centralizing State IT

A new survey shows CIOs intend to conquer budget challenges through ongoing consolidation and shared services.

A new study from the National Association of CIOs, TechAmerica and Grant Thornton shows that two-thirds of state CIOs anticipate IT budgets will remain tight. IT leaders intend to reduce costs by consolidating data centers, sharing services and making use of new technologies such as cloud computing and social media.

"State governments will continue to endure tough fiscal conditions, which makes the state CIO's job even more challenging," says Doug Robinson, executive director of NASCIO. "However, this situation presents opportunities for CIOs to execute on cost-savings strategies and innovative business models, and advance the use of emerging technologies."

The Results Are In

Boosting IT efficiency and effectiveness often requires improvements in IT performance measurements, IT governance and IT procurement processes, according to the results. Of the respondents, 32 percent do not formally measure IT contributions, only half use a formal IT portfolio management process and only 35 percent have authority to approve the statewide IT budget. And the bulk of respondents gave state IT procurement processes a grade of C, reporting that related laws, rules and practices must be modernized.

So what's working? More than half of CIOs surveyed use an IT shared-services model for some or all IT operations, and that number is likely to increase. A full 76 percent say they plan to expand their use of shared services over the next three years. About half already use a managed-services model for some portion of IT, and 49 percent plan to expand on that.

Cross-boundary collaboration is also on the minds of many. Already, two-thirds of CIOs say their state has some sort of multijurisdictional or multiagency IT services model, such as working with other state agencies, local governments or special districts, colleges and universities or school districts. This will continue to grow and to foster innovation out of economic necessity.

Data center consolidation and modernization go hand in hand with shared and managed  services. Just over one-fourth of respondents plan to build new data centers over the next three years, while 16 percent intend to downsize facilities owned and operated by the state.

Among the technologies capturing the attention of the CIO, cloud computing rates the highest. More than half of those surveyed are investigating cloud use, 21 percent are already migrating portions of infrastructure to the cloud, and 13 percent are undertaking pilot projects.

Social media is also popular as a valuable means of communicating with citizens. About half of states have CIO organizations that use social media, and two-thirds have other state agencies that do so. Meanwhile, nearly half of the states have mandated or begun drafting green IT policies.

Available from the NASCIO website, the survey demonstrates overall that state CIOs have taken action to reduce costs and consolidate services. "With 37 governors races this year, the information presented in this survey makes available to the incumbents and candidates the candid thoughts of IT leadership on the current status of state IT as well as ways to improve efficiencies and operations and produce cost savings for states," says Hank Steininger, managing partner of Grant Thornton's global public sector practice.

Aug 03 2010