A vast majority of city and county chief information officers expect their IT budgets to increase in the next year, especially as local governments continue to worry about preventing cyberattacks and data losses, according to a new survey published by CompTIA’s Public Technology Institute.
While cybersecurity has topped PTI’s annual survey for nine years running, this year’s edition also found a record-high percentage of the group’s members naming it as their top priority, with 97% saying so, compared with 88% in 2021. The accompanying report attributes the uptick to high-profile incidents, such as the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has raised fears of Kremlin retaliation in cyberspace against Kyiv’s allies.
The report points to efforts such as the Joint Security Operations Center that New York City and New York State opened earlier this year in Brooklyn as evidence of this heightened concern.
When the survey broke down specific cybersecurity items, though, data integrity and restoration were by far the most popular, with 86% saying it’s a highest priority. Modernizing defensive systems, training staff and “further establishing a security mindset,” also all garnered more than 60%.
But even as cybersecurity’s popularity reigned for another year, PTI’s 2022 survey also showed for the first time in several years other IT topics garnering at least 50% support as a top priority. Modernizing outdated systems and general innovation were both named by 61% of CIOs, while digital services was named by exactly half.
The CompTIA report chalks up the focuses on modernization and innovation to weaknesses exposed by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that “business disruptions likely exposed the brittle platforms that inhibited remote flexibility.” And with the immediate needs of the pandemic receding public attention, many tech officials see an opportunity to tackle other things.
“It also comes as no surprise that IT leaders would have a lot of pent-up desire to revisit ‘innovation’ after two years of being in reactive mode,” the report reads.
Increased budgets expected
Many CIOs expect those efforts to get a financial boost as state and local governments continue to make use of the funds they received through last year’s American Rescue Plan. They’re also preparing to receive money through programs in the bipartisan infrastructure law, including the $1 billion cyber grant program.
Fifty-one percent of PTI members said they expect their agencies’ budgets to increase between 1% and 4% this year, while 33% are eyeing raises of at least 5%. The more than four-fifths of members anticipating bigger budgets is a major swing from last year when just 49% said they expected any increase at all.
And even if IT departments aren’t the primary beneficiaries of the new federal funds, they could enjoy downstream effects, the report states.
“IT agencies might not be direct recipients of these funds; however, the fiscal relief provided to the rest of the enterprise can be enough to unlock budget increases for IT investments in new and projects previously on the back burner,” it reads.