2014 state CIO survey looks at large projects, sourcing

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State governments are far more successful with large-scale IT projects than perhaps the public gives them credit for, according to the newly released 2014 state CIO Survey compiled by the National Association of Chief Information Officers, Grant Thornton and TechAmerica.

The survey questioned state technology leaders from 52 state and territorial governments on a number of hot-button issues right now for state chief information officers, including the planning and oversight of large projects, sourcing, managing data as a strategic asset, consolidation, mobility, cloud services, public safety broadband, cybersecurity and drones.

“While the survey covered a wide variety of topics, we asked CIOs to focus particularly on three main topics – the planning and oversight of critical projects, sourcing and the use of data as a strategic asset,” the survey says. “These topics share a common theme in that they all require the CIO to establish priorities, collaborate with stakeholders and integrate with multiple external organizations. Whether dealing with large System Integrators, with Cloud services vendors, or with other state agencies, CIOs more than ever before are challenged to seamlessly coordinate the activities multiple diverse entities.”

Even among those focus areas, the topic of large-scale technology projects was the most prominent and the numbers debunk the public perception that state governments cannot handle such projects.

More than one-third of respondents said all of their recent large-scale projects have been a victory, while the rest gave more mixed results. In general, though, they gave a much rosier picture than media reports would lead people to believe.

“While states may not be uniformly achieving success in their most critical projects, these results do indicate that broad generalizations about the inability of states to successfully complete projects are overblown,” the report said.

That is important as states do typically have several large or critical projects they are managing at one time. Half of the states, on average, are managing at least five projects they consider to be large or critical, while three quarters of states have recent experience projects with budgets in excess of $100 million. These projects, in total, account for more than 90 percent of the money budgeted for total project spending, according to the survey.

“When CIOs were asked what factors they felt had the greatest impact on project success, by far the most common responses were executive sponsorship, effectiveness of governance, and effectiveness of project management,” the survey said. “CIOs also emphasized the need for strong procurement and vendor management practices, and the need to transition to a more incremental approach to project implementation.”

The survey also takes a look at sourcing as one of its key tenants.

In particular, the survey says while the ownership and operation of the data center is characterized by heightened consolidation and CIO ownership, outsourcing of some IT applications and services has grown at a strong pace, nearly doubling from 42 percent of states to 81 percent in the last four years.

To keep up with the challenge of the changing technology services landscape, CIOs are increasingly examining and adopting varied IT sourcing and service delivery models. The 2013 survey indicated that CIOs no longer feel there are significant barriers to using different sourcing and business models, and the 2014 survey data reflects an uptick in use of novel arrangements.

“In assessing their ability to move forward with a sourcing strategy to implement managed services, most CIOs felt that they had the appropriate policies, including security in place, as well as the contractual Service Level Agreements and supporting terms and conditions,” the survey says. “While there are still some concerns, surprisingly, no CIOs responded that they had any statutory prohibitions that would prevent them from implementing managed services.”

You can read the report in full below.

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