Enterprise information technology governance is about more than just establishing a set of rules and structures for IT gets purchased and used in government, state IT leaders say.
On a new episode of StateScoop’s Priorities podcast, Alabama CIO Jim Purcell says his agency has worked to establish IT governance as a way to bring different agencies together in a way that forces collaboration and eventual cost savings.
“We’ve got several very recent example where the governor’s office has come to my office and said ‘Look, we’ve got multiple agencies asking for budget line items for very similar systems — why don’t you get in the middle of this and go figure out what they’re trying to do?'” Purcell says on the podcast. “Sure enough, it easily could be accomplished in one centrally-hosted system with multiple agencies using it, but they just operate in such silos that the only way, in our opinion, to get them to talk is to get a governance process that’s tied to the purse strings.”
By including finances in the discussion — and by proxy the financial decision makers in the state — the governance process has “teeth,” Purcell says.
“We have an existing governance policy, but [agencies] just kind of ignore it if it doesn’t have any teeth,” Purcell says. “I think the only teeth they care about is the ability to pay for it.”
In Arizona, Doug Lange, the state IT agency’s chief strategy officer, says he struggles even more with establishing governance because of the way the state handles technology.
“When you talk about enterprise IT governance, and you mix that in a federated model, there are a lot of challenges that come with that,” Lange says. “I think for us, it’s not just the concept of enterprise IT governance, but the concept of IT demand governance.”
Lange and his team currently oversee an active statewide portfolio of approximately 60 projects accounting for roughly $460 million of the budget, he says.
“The challenge there? What’s best for one agency versus what’s best for the state as a whole may not be the same thing,” Lange says. “I think with the emergence of public-private partnerships, the cloud in general, software as a service starting to show up more in government, there are very real opportunities to leverage these types of solutions at scale — which means ultimately state agencies need to be in alignment and working together.”
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Priorities is StateScoop’s podcast chronicling the top 10 priorities of state chief information officers. The show is based on the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual list of top 10 priorities, and produced in partnership with the association.