IT Budgeting and Decision Making: Maximizing Your Government's Technology Investments

By Shayne C. Kavanagh and Phil Bertolini, editors

GFOA, 2009; $70 ($45, GFOA members)

CIOs and chief financial officers (CFOs) have always had an uneasy alliance in government. Government IT chiefs have always wanted free rein on how they innovate and invest in IT, but have chafed at the restrictions set by CFOs, who have questioned the worthiness of some projects. It's easy to see why. Technology has greatly changed over the past 20 years, making it hard for the public sector -- always risk averse -- to understand and assess the best way to adopt innovative IT hardware, software and networks.

But the situation is changing and so too is the relationship between CIO and CFO. To help make sense of IT and government funding, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) published IT Budgeting and Decision Making: Maximizing Your Government's Technology Investments, edited by Shayne C. Kavanagh, senior manager of research at GFOA, and Phil Bertolini, CIO of Oakland County, Mich.

In their introduction, Bertolini and Kavanagh point out that numerous factors have led to a new dawn in how government decides to fund IT projects. These factors include:

  • more manageable IT costs;
  • more robust standards that make IT integration easier;
  • more mature markets;
  • a better understanding of IT's importance among elected officials, public managers and citizens;
  • more access to technical expertise; and
  • greater expectations among citizens, and an increased dependence on IT in their daily lives.

Coupled with these factors is the increasing necessity for government to operate more efficiently. CIOs and CFOs have more reason than ever to bring together the budgeting and IT governance processes so that measurable public value can be generated from IT investments.

The book's three parts guide readers through the key steps for designing and implementing a technology budget process:

  1. setting up a good IT governance structure to support investment decision and establish accountability;
  2. drafting a budgeting process for technology; and
  3. using IT governance practices to their fullest potential.

The book has contributions from many government IT experts, including Harvard University's Jerry Mechling, and the GFOA's Anne Spray Kinney, David Melbye, Huy Nguyen and Michael Riffel.


Tod Newcombe, Editor  |  Editor, Public CIO