Jan 09 2020

What Are State CIOs’ Top 2020 Priorities?

State IT leaders are pushing for digital government and innovation this year.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual State CIO Top 10 Priorities list, which NASCIO released in December, is usually consistent from year to year. Cybersecurity is perennially the No.1 priority, and it was again on the 2020 list. It’s the changes, however, that give an indication of how state CIOs’ technology priorities are shifting. 

As Government Technology notes, digital government jumped from the No. 4 spot in 2019 to second place, after cybersecurity.

There were other minor changes as well. Broadband and wireless connectivity fell from No. 5 to ninth place, legacy modernization was No. 7 after not ranking in 2019, and innovation and transformation rounded out the list at No. 10 as a new addition

Meanwhile, enterprise IT governance and identity and access management fell off the list completely.

“I definitely thought it was interesting that innovation was on there for the first time,” Meredith Ward, NASCIO’s policy and research director, told StateScoop. “I really like the phrase ‘drive a culture of innovation.’ CIOs are looking ahead to what the next thing is they’re having to face.”

MORE FROM STATETECH: These are the key state and local government IT trends to stay on top of in 2020. 

State CIOs Shift Toward Customer Relationship Management

Over the past several years, the role of a state CIO has been shifting in NASCIO’s view as the position has evolved beyond being merely a provider of technology. Today, state CIOs are not just brokers of IT services; they are also customer relationship managers. 

State CIOs agree they need to understand how the state agencies they serve are using technology and want to modernize their IT to achieve their missions.

Speaking to StateTech at the NASCIO 2019 Annual Conference in October, state IT leaders said that CIOs need to market IT services to state agencies and need to develop and maintain close relationships to do so effectively. They also noted that establishing and building trust is critical to the relationship between IT leaders and state agencies. Customer relationship management has allowed state CIOs to communicate better to agency customers about the services that the IT department offers, they argued.

“It’s the progression toward ‘we need someone who understands the business risk and the business cases,’” Ward told StateScoop. “A lot of people have this image of ‘oh this is the person who comes to fix my computer,’ but that’s not who the CIO is.”

Customer relationship management — which NASCIO defines as “internal customer service strategies; building customer agency confidence, trust and collaboration; service level agreements (demand planning)” — rose from No. 7 to the No. 5 slot on the list, StateScoop notes. 

At the NASCIO conference, several state CIOs outlined to StateTech specific programs and initiatives they plan to tackle this year. Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers said that the state will focus on going from “cloud first” to “cloud smart” with cloud security in place. The state wants to create a Cloud Center of Excellence to streamline migration.

“One of the ideas that I have is to create, in partnership with the Innovate Ohio team, a Cloud Center of Excellence for the state of Ohio, so that we have the appropriate resources and we’re not trying to do this 50 different ways,” he said. “We can do it centrally and take advantage of the investment.” 

Meanwhile, North Carolina wants to update its identity management solutions so residents can more easily get access to government services with a single ID. “How can blockchain play a part of our identity, and how can we push our identity out to the citizen, so they have the option of choosing and selecting when they are a part of a program and when they’re not?” said North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette (who also now serves as NASCIO’s president). 

“If you’re a citizen, you live in a municipality, you live in a county and you live in a state. So why should you have three different IDs to transact?” Boyette added. “The citizen doesn’t care which piece of government they’re dealing with. They have a service they need and they want to apply that service and they’re trying to figure out how to get there. And we’re trying to make that easier. So, we’re partnering, we’re trying to do some pilots with our counties and municipalities on how to create one ID for our citizens.”

Photography by Phil Goldstein

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