New NASCIO report highlights path forward for 'CIO as broker' model

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State information technology agencies are trending toward a model in which the chief information officer’s main responsibility is managing relationships and services, instead of merely serving as a technical administrator. But few state governments are equipped for this new “brokerage” paradigm, according to a new report by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

The report, the third in a series of documents meant to help CIOs understand he changing roles of their organizations, outlines a maturity model and 25 rating categories for states to use as they navigate toward a fully-integrated shared services platform fueled by numerous vendors.

“I don’t think [the brokerage model] can be ignored,” said Eric Sweden, the NASCIO program director who rote the report. “I think it’s going to be emphasized more and more over time and when you talk to our CIOs, you hear the same thing. This is a high priority.”

The document describes the most basic role of the CIO as the historical job of “keeping the lights on,” while the more-evolved broker role is one that can “partner with agencies, legislature and governor on technology strategy and policy” and is “viewed as a change agent able to improve service for citizens.”

The report also builds on NASCIO’s description of a “CIO operating model” designed to help CIOs manage the “four forces” — political, market, customer and inertial — with the purpose of building platforms capable of managing numerous interdependent IT vendors.

NASCIO is conducting a survey of state CIO offices to develop a roadmap for IT maturity, which will be published later this year. Sweden’s report shares a few early findings, revealing a widespread need for IT agencies to more thoroughly document their service agreements with vendors, and to spend more time talking to their customers and vendors to ensure their organizations are properly oriented.

Only 30 percent of state CIOs reported having a documented process for engaging the market and end users to define which services the organization offers. And just 35 percent reported maintaining a “service management manual” that shows all services offered and the processes through which they’re made available.

Vendor governance was also found to be lacking. Only 33 percent of states reported documenting interdependencies between suppliers in shared service level agreements.

Procurement itself was also found to be stagnant in the face of an evolving IT model. Only about one-third of states agreed that their procurement processes produce the best value for state customers and suppliers.

But maturing a government IT organization and developing the CIO’s role as a broker of services require convening all internal and external partners involved with procurement, contract writing, vendor management and other critical skills, Sweden said.

“It’s an incredibly complex and challenging task to bring all these things together,” he said.

Mississippi CIO Craig Orgeron, a co-chair of NASCIO’s enterprise architecture committee, said the rapidly evolving brokerage model in state CIO offices mirrors broader consumer trends toward online grocery-delivery services like Instacart and on-demand streaming video like Netflix or Hulu.

“I think the concept of multi-sourcing is going to become much more of a standardized model of delivering service,” Orgeron said. “IT is becoming much more commoditized and consumption-oriented and therein the role of IT over time is not going to be just a big mainframe and the aggregation of it.”

The brokerage model is “never going away,” Sweden said. But tease the complexity of managing vendors and partners across organizations, CIOs may increasingly rely on automation in the years to come as they seek maximal levels of efficiency and economy in their service delivery.

“We’ll see how sophisticated this gets and over what period of time, but we’ve made the point in this series that our state CIOs can’t deliver all the demand on them only with internal staff,” Sweden said.

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Craig Orgeron​, IT governance, NASCIO, National Association of State Chief Information Officers
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