Who is being counted on to help states reduce costs and find efficiencies? State CIOs say they are.

Seventy-one percent of state CIOs have seen their roles expand and their clout increase, while only 6 percent say their role has diminished, according to a new survey of CIOs from 48 states and two U.S. territories.

The poll sponsored by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), TechAmerica and Grant Thornton explained that many state governments are coming around to the idea that technology and consolidation of IT services can drive cost savings and transform business processes. Consequently two-thirds of state CIOs said lawmakers are regularly consulting them for expertise.

“This is a good indicator of expanding legislative oversight and the growing recognition and influence of the CIO’s role,” according to the findings, which were released this week during NASCIO’s annual conference, held this year in Denver.

Similar to the past few years, the data showed that state CIOs most frequently mentioned IT consolidation as a top goal (67 percent), followed by controlling IT costs (55 percent) and improving IT governance and portfolio management (53 percent).

But as they pursue these priorities, state CIOs said they continue to be challenged by inadequate budgets (71 percent), resistance to change (67 percent) and conflicting priorities among state programs (55 percent) — three obstacles that have been common refrains over the years.

The report cautioned that consolidation should not be viewed as a cure-all for budgeting. “Even as states’ general funds begin to recover from years of cutbacks, the costs of IT services, even when consolidated, are considerable,” the survey explained. “In addition, without some funding dedicated to innovation, it is difficult for CIOs to deal with the next big problem or opportunity.”

Furthermore, 41 percent of state CIOs said savings from consolidations hadn’t yet been measured, while another 41 percent said savings turned out to be what was expected. Fourteen percent said consolidation resulted in more savings than expected; 4 percent said less savings resulted.

Most CIOs apparently can’t get away from the drive for cost savings. Ninety-four percent of them said it was a motivator for engaging in collaborative projects, whether with other state CIOs (82 percent), with other state agencies (84 percent), or with other jurisdictions within the state, such as cities and counties (75 percent). These collaborative projects span health care, transportation and cyber-security. Collaboration has become a key part of a CIO’s agenda, the survey said.

The report, called New C4 Agenda: Perspectives and Trends from State Government IT Leaders, contains much more data on topics such as cloud computing, work force staffing, health-care IT projects, shared services and funding. The report is free to download.

Matt Williams Matt Williams  |  Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.