State chief information officers continue to face a difficult juggling act trying to meet the often-conflicting demands of state and agency leaders. The struggle is not new, but the stakes are getting higher, a new study suggests.
At its core, state IT leaders are attempting to modernize their state’s IT systems to improve efficiency, drive innovation and ultimately save taxpayers’ dollars.
But the resources to build enterprise-level systems to accomplish those goals continue to compete with day-to-day IT demands of state agencies. That’s leaving little for building stable enterprise systems, according to a survey commissioned by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and Infosys Public Services, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Infosys.
And it’s presenting a serious barrier for states in adopting change, the study concluded.
Nearly half (45 percent) of the CIOs indicated they are spending more than 80 cents of every budget dollar on maintaining existing systems. That’s limiting state IT departments and the ability of their officials to invest in innovative solutions to boost business effectiveness and efficiency.
“While state IT departments are starting to address shortcomings in their decision criteria and processes, there is still a lot to be done,” said Doug Robinson, executive director of NASCIO. “Accelerating the pace of change will require principled direction, well-defined operating schemes, and improved investment in management practices,” he said.
The study pointed to grounds for optimism. Eight of 10 CIOs (82 percent) reported they collaborate with business to develop strategies, and 62 percent said IT governance is aligned with the enterprise operating model and is effectively instituted.
But the survey also pointed to additional challenges complicating the work of state CIOs. Among them are a lack of definition of business principles, and the standardization and integration of business processes and systems platforms.
That means that state CIOs aren’t always confident that they are “working on the right things” when making IT investment decisions, the study concluded.
“State CIOs are telling us that feeling confident about ‘working on the right things’ is a much bigger challenge for them than ‘working on things the right way,’” said Eric Paternoster, president and CEO of Infosys Public Services, which also made the report available.
“Getting this clarity is critical to driving innovation and ultimately saving taxpayers’ money,” he said. The study, however, also pointed to grounds for optimism.