leadership responsibilities. You should see that well-established, centrally-provided IT services are funded via charge-back fees rather than direct allocations, as this gives power and responsibility to departmental line managers, especially when departments have the option of taking their business to outside providers. On the other hand, for experimental, new and not-well-established services, you should implement revolving funds or other overhead accounts that don't place too much of the funding burden on early adopters.

For these and other reforms, you may want to organize your efforts on a basis broader than IT issues alone. Much of what you will need can be accomplished via reforms focused on themes, such as performance measurement, work process improvement, total quality management, outsourcing, the introduction of strategic planning and program analysis into the budget process, and so forth. For any of these efforts to be successful, expect to assign a team or task force of your best staff, supported by consultants and other outsiders, for three to six months or more before the first season in which you prepare your budget under the new procedures. If you have not already done so, you will probably want to develop an analytic staff unit to explore a range of annually-defined issues on a deeper basis than traditionally can be provided by your departmentally-oriented budget staff.

Results of the Practitioner Survey

Mean Scores for 12 Initiatives to Improve IT Funding in Government

Item Social Value

Present Involvement

Confusion

Conflict

Difficulty*

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Better Participation initiatives:

Education 3.73

2.42

2.73

3.03

5.76

Strategic planning/performance

measurement 3.97

2.77

3.73

3.86

7.59

Line leadership 3.63

3.04

3.01

3.73

6.74

Oversight involvement 3.39

2.55

3.04

3.94

6.98

Outsourcing 3.47

2.86

3.06

4.14

7.20

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Better Portfolio initiatives:

R&D and learning investments 3.99

2.30

3.17

3.51

6.68

Infrastructure investments 4.36

2.96

3.06

3.83

6.89

Cross-boundary investments 4.18

2.34

3.60

4.27

7.87

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Non-Tax Funding initiatives:

Revolving funds 3.68

2.00

3.23

3.84

7.07

Capital funds 3.47

2.36

2.90

3.39

6.29

User charges 3.43

2.30

3.51

4.03

7.54

Performance contracts 4.13

2.18

3.42

3.48

6.90

Average 3.79

2.51

3.20

3.75

6.96

1 = low, 10 = high

FOR THE CIOS ...

If you are the CIO, the IT planning and oversight agenda will largely be your own. To begin, you may want to start with the informal planning process -- the many conversations, often one-on-one, that help define issues and establish a pattern of networking to support the work of the group. If you were chosen as CIO largely because of your interpersonal and networking skills, use them. On the other hand, if you were chosen largely for your technical or other skills, you will need to develop your communications and leadership abilities to the greatest degree possible (although, in general, this will be more difficult than developing your understanding of the technical concepts required to be a good CIO).

In most jurisdictions beyond a certain size -- say 500 or more employees -- important elements of the planning process are likely to depend on written analyses and plans. In these settings, you will want to institute an IT planning process to address issues that include:

* Standards for the networks, data and skills to be shared as infrastructure throughout the enterprise;

* Organizational responsibilities for IT, including reporting relationships and control over activities, such as applications development, systems operation, maintenance and training;

* Design and deployment of electronically-delivered services, especially opportunities for service integration and self-service; and

* Coordination with the private sector on electronic commerce and attracting good jobs.

The planning process should be overseen by line managers, senior civil servants, and elected leaders and their appointees,

Jerry Mechling  |  Contributing Writer