Potential legal barriers and procurement challenges have stunted cloud adoption for some state and local governments as they grapple with new ways of buying third-party services. But that hasn’t stopped CIOs from working with their acquisition staff and legal counsel to ensure their agencies are keeping pace with the changing IT landscape and providing cost-effective services.
“As the economy climbs out of the recession, budgets are still tight, and state and local CIOs have to find ways to do more with less,” Mark Weber, president and general manager of NetApp U.S. Public, wrote in a recent article. “The question is whether or not they follow closely behind their brethren in the commercial arena with certain technologies and solutions, and the preliminary answer appears to be yes.”
That’s good news for government employees who — like their private-sector counterparts — rely on secure services and Internet-based tools to get work done and for citizens who have come to expect convenient and reliable online services. These types of investments are expected to drive IT spending.
Here are the four technology trends Weber sees emerging at the state and local levels this year.
Although CIOs are moving some of their agencies’ applications to the cloud, “most if not all agencies are in the evaluation stage,” Weber writes. “In other words, they are not necessarily committing to cloud adoption, but are committing to evaluating cloud computing as a viable and potentially preferable alternative.”
Statistics in the 2013 State CIO Survey support Weber’s observations. Of the 54 states and territories whose officials took part in the survey, 68 percent already have some applications in the cloud and are considering others. Some 22 percent said that they are investigating cloud services, while only 6 percent reported being highly invested in cloud services. One reason that states haven’t adopted cloud services more aggressively is because “state laws, regulations, and policies are widely seen as barriers to cloud service adoption,” according to the annual survey.
If you offer the service, then the customers will come. At least, that’s what CIOs are counting on. “Seeking out and finding the natural synergies that exist across agencies will be a major focus in 2014 as government agencies continue to look for ways to shore up limited budgets,” Weber writes.
Last year, officials from 73 percent of states and territories included in the State CIO Survey reported using an IT shared services model for some or all operations. CIOs understand that sharing services are cost effective, and they are eager to use resources more efficiently, according to Weber.
Whether it’s mobile apps or increased online services, many states are going digital. Weber expects agencies will expand accessibility of services, forms of payments, automation and convenience.
These resources will be especially critical for citizens who rely on government programs and cannot take the time off from work to visit agencies’ offices in person, he writes. Much of their interaction with the government is via smartphones.
Embracing e-government is also good business for agencies. “It doesn’t take much of a stretch of imagination to recognize that removing paper forms from any program will eliminate many processing requirements and significantly reduce error rates,” according to Weber.
About 75 percent of states are adopting a cybersecurity framework and implementing continuous vulnerability monitoring capabilities, according to the annual CIO survey. But Weber notes that state and local governments have to “put careful consideration into creating a unifying approach to cybersecurity at a more micro-level.”
For example, the Cybersecurity Framework released last year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology was created in such a way that both the public and private sectors could adopt it. State and local governments will have to tailor the framework to meet their unique cybersecurity needs.