Budget cuts hitting government CIOs more than private-sector peers: Gartner

By GovTechReview Staff
Friday, 09 May, 2014

Government CIOs are more likely to expect their IT budgets will drop than CIOs in general and over a quarter of them expect budget decreases in 2014, new research from Gartner has found.

The firm's 2014 CIO survey, which involved interviews with 228 government CIOs and 2339 respondents in total, found that 26 percent of government CIOs anticipated their IT budgets would decrease in 2014. That was roughly equal with the 27 percent who expected budgets to decrease in 2013.

With strong pressure to cut programs and services, government bodies have faced disruptions from mandates to embrace lower-cost, high-scale commercial alternatives – a trend that is complicated by the finding that at least one-third of IT expenditures are now being made by business units outside the authority of the IT organisation.

This 'shadow IT' trend was creating its own headaches for CIOs and needed to push them to rein in such casual spending, Gartner research director Rick Howard said in a statement.

“Regardless of how much IT spending happens outside of the IT organisation, CIOs must address the presence of shadow IT by affirming their position as the designated and recognised point of IT responsibility,” Howard said.

“Accountability for the information assets of a government agency cannot be distributed, and governance will ensure a corporate officer, the CIO, is at the table whenever or wherever an IT investment is being considered.”

Implementing that organisational change will require the establishment of clear boundaries between the CIO, chief digital officer, and CTO, Howard said - yet the transformation also requires a different approach to sourcing technology.

Fully 75 percent of government CIOs indicated they are already working on changing their sourcing approach, with 60 percent currently managing a 'mixed model' of providers, 26 percent depending on a primarily insourced approach and 13 percent preferring an outsourced model.

Such models need to be carefully introduced to ensure that the CIO walks in lockstep with other parts of the business, Howard advised.

“To maintain organisational relevance in today's digital industrial economy, CIOs need to work in collaboration with their executive peers to strike the optimal balance of 'grow' and 'transform' with running the business,” he said.

“The most successful government CIOs will relish the opportunity to manage IT effectively in an increasingly diverse ecosystem of vendors and solutions by combining specialised knowledge of government business practices and policies with the executive role, in order to promote architecture standardisation, interoperability, robustness, agility and security.”

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