The 2009 Public CIO Survey The 2009 Public CIO Survey iStockPhoto

What a difference a year makes. In our 2008 survey, public CIOs were cautiously optimistic about their jobs, IT departments and priorities. Today, with the worst recession in memory raging, government IT leaders are projecting less spending on IT and staff, according to our most recent Public CIO survey.

However, we are also seeing a rise in the importance of CIOs and their organizations. More have the CIO title than ever before, and more than 50 percent of respondents say CIOs and IT departments directly control IT spending. Similarly more CIOs say that aligning IT with business goals -- a value-driven proposition -- exceeds the need to use IT to control costs. Given the current economic situation, the growing reliance on government to help citizens in times of need and the emphasis on reform -- President Barack Obama created the nation's first chief performance officer position -- we expect to see IT's importance only increase over time.

But there's no masking how bad the situation has become in so short a time, and our latest survey reflects this. The overall tenure for public CIOs dropped, primarily among those who've been in government for 10 years or more. While we don't have specific data on why so many older CIOs have left, we can only guess that the retirement wave is beginning to crest.

Meanwhile, spending forecasts have also dropped. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they expect to spend less in 2009, and 23 percent said their IT staff will decrease. Last year, only 17 percent of respondents thought IT staff would shrink.

For the first time, we polled you on the top five skill sets needed in 2009. Eighty-one percent of you picked project management, making it the No. 1 choice, followed by security, Web services, database management and networking. Interestingly few believed open source to be a necessary skill, perhaps reflecting a focus on building practical skills in these lean times.

Here are the findings in more depth.


Who You Are:

Ten years ago, most people who ran a government IT department were called director. Today, the title CIO dominates. It's a clear sign of the rising importance and value of IT in the public sector. At the same time, we're seeing signs that the retirement wave is beginning to hit the ranks of CIOs, as the average years of tenure drop compared to last year.


CIO: 50%

CTO: 5%

Deputy CIO: 11%

IT manager: 10%

Other: 24%

FACT: Use of the CIO title is at its highest level ever in government, up from less than 25 percent just two years ago to 50 percent today


Who you report to:

CEO (governor, mayor, county executive, college president): 24%

Agency director/secretary: 26%

CFO: 7%

COO/CAO (city, county manager): 14%

Other: 29%

The public CIO community you are from:

Federal: 5%

State: 33%

Local: 55%

Education: 7%

Tenure at current position:

Less than one year: 12%

2 years: 24%

3 years: 17%

4 years: 9%

5 years: 21%

10 years: 10%

More than 10 years: 7%

Tenure declines: The retirement wave has hit the ranks of IT government leaders, as the number of CIOs with more than five years' experience drops from 42 percent in 2006 to just 17 percent in 2009.


Salary range:

$50,000 - $75,000: 9%

$75,000 - $100,000: 26%

$100,000 - $150,000: 59%

$150,000+: 7%


IT Departments

For this year's survey, we tried to find out more about the impact of IT departments beyond what you spend and how many you employ. We took a look at how many users you support and found the sweet spot between 1,000 and 5,000 users. Since a majority

Tod Newcombe, Editor  |  Editor, Public CIO