As 2010 draws to a close, many jurisdictions are heading into an uncertain future. Government revenue in many locations will stay flat for the next few years, and spending reduction is a top priority for a large portion of existing and newly elected political leaders across the nation.
What this means for government IT professionals is uncertain — but it’s probably fair to say that it won’t be business as usual.
The changing landscape is most apparent at the state level, where more than half the states chose new governors in the November mid-term elections. When combined with previously announced retirements and resignations, this means that some 30 states could be appointing new CIOs in early 2011.
Leadership changes will occur in states undertaking some of the nation’s most significant public-sector IT initiatives. In California, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, a Democrat, inherits a massive IT consolidation effort launched by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and led by state CIO Teri Takai, who left California in November to become CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense. And in Georgia, incoming Gov. Nathan Deal inherits a comprehensive IT outsourcing initiative launched under Gov. Sonny Perdue and led by current state CIO Patrick Moore.
These and other initiatives may very well continue under the next chief executive, but there’s no guarantee they’ll receive the same level of support or avoid significant changes.
A number of incoming governors also were elected on promises to shrink government and shun tax increases. How this will impact current IT initiatives is unclear — but it could lend more support to consolidation and shared service initiatives if incoming governors understand the importance of those efforts.
Ohio, which launched an aggressive shared services initiative in 2008, is a case in point. Incoming Republican Gov. John Kasich faces what could be an $8 billion state budget deficit. He’s vowed to cut taxes and “skinny down” state government bureaucracy. Ohio Shared Services — a partnership of 15 state agencies led by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management — looks like a step toward achieving those goals. The initiative — launched under Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland — offers a suite of shared financial applications to participating state agencies, cutting costs and resource duplication.
Change isn’t confined to state government either. One local government standout, Chicago CIO Hardik Bhatt, left public service in October, after Mayor Richard Daley announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2011. Under Daley, Bhatt was a consistent innovator, and he had assumed broad responsibility for tech-related education and work force development initiatives in the city. Meanwhile, the future of Washington, D.C., CTO Bryan Sivak turned uncertain in November when Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for re-election.
At this point, it’s hard to say what 2011 has in store, but it’s clear things won’t be the same.