Jan 02 2019

How IT Automation Can Lead to Savings for State and Local Governments

CIOs and CFOs can work together to generate both technology innovation and return on investment.

Technology is radically transforming workloads and workflows, spanning across all types of businesses and organizations. Yet historically, state and local governments have been somewhat slow to embrace commercially proven technologies to help meet longstanding goals, such as overcoming workflow challenges, driving greater efficiencies and increasing security

So, what’s the holdup? 

The hesitation to automate aging, often paper-based systems is largely due to budget limitations, as well as questions about whether state and local governments will have the people and skills required to manage the implementation. Governments have limited financial resources and always need to ensure they are allocating funds in a way that’s driving citizen services as a primary outcome. Modernization is often put on a back burner over projects that are deemed more mission-critical — despite the fact that those projects would often benefit from a technology boost.

The good news is that state and local governments are now making gradual strides to automate IT systems to ensure they’re meeting their larger goals. In fact, the annual GovTech Navigator report shows a steady increase in IT spending among state and local governments, reaching $103 billion in 2018. 

Despite the steady commitment to investing in IT, there’s still a lot of work to be done, as many state and local governments continue to operate core workflows using a hybrid of manual and custom technology processes — many of which are outdated, costly and error-prone, not to mention less secure. The risks associated with these legacy systems are too big to ignore, and simply looking for a less expensive way to maintain the status quo is no longer a viable option

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how state CIOs should preserve digital records. 

CIOs and CFOs Can Team Up to Drive IT Innovation

Aging legacy systems can pose both efficiency and mission risks, such as ever-increasing costs to maintain them and a failure to perform at a level necessary to be effective. In addition to the tangible costs accrued, legacy systems pose security vulnerabilities that are either too complex or expensive to address. This hinders the government’s ability to comply with increasing mandatory legal and cybersecurity requirements, such as regulations for the storage of voter and citizen data. 

The recent challenges faced by many states during the last election cycle illustrate the inherent risks of relying on outdated technology. With citizen and employee data at stake, as well as mission-critical outcomes, state, county and city governments simply can’t afford to not meet these mandates.

Where do we go from here? As state and local governments increasingly embrace automated technologies, it’s necessary for CIOs from states, cities and counties to work collaboratively with their CFO counterparts to maximize their IT budgets over the coming year. 

After all, CFOs often sign off on the information systems running their businesses but may have a limited understanding of how to fully optimize their investments. By working more closely with the CIO, a CFO will glean critical knowledge to better procure products that will drive greater long-term value rather than simply selecting a program based on the lowest price tag.

Focusing on making larger investments to support their automated technology projects —from cloud adoption to the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions — will be increasingly important. Maintaining custom, legacy systems is a trifecta of risky IT and financial governance, with constantly increasing costs, continuing lack of innovation and, most important, a sub-optimal ability to execute citizen services. 

By working in tandem, CIOs and CFOs can more easily pinpoint technology that poses greater financial risks vs. those that present greater opportunities to drive innovation. In addition, they can adopt mutually beneficial systems that will centralize spending to provide better visibility into their overall spend. 

To accomplish these collective goals, it comes down to four key principles:

  • Break down silos
  • Audit IT and spend management solutions together
  • Collaboratively create a comprehensive strategy
  • Consider the cloud

The collaboration fostered between CIOs and CFOs will empower state and local governments to think strategically, operate as a modern enterprise and address the challenges facing many state and local governments across the nation — ultimately meaning that they can strike a better balance between their IT budgets and their fiscal responsibilities to the citizens they serve.


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