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What Are the Most Important Traits of CIOs Today?

In a survey of state and local government tech executives, CIOs weigh in on the key issues they’re grappling with, how they’re handling them and what technologies will impact their operations in the future.


The chief information officer is the heart and soul of IT in government. But what exactly are the key issues they have to grapple with and what technologies do they feel will have an impact on operations and services? To get answers to these and other questions, the Center for Digital Government* surveyed state and local tech executives in April 2019.

When it comes to defining their role, CIOs have seen a big shift in what they are doing and are having to use skills that may have been less important just a few years ago. Compared to three years ago, 71 percent say their role has become more strategic. Pictured above, respondents ranked the most important leadership traits of today’s public CIO.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.



In the past three years, state and local CIOs have seen their IT budget increase as well — 71 percent say it has gone up while 29 percent say there’s been no increase. Despite that growth, only 37 percent of CIOs say the growth in budgets has been enough to meet their department needs. More troubling is how elected and appointed leaders view the impact of IT on government. According to 60 percent of CIOs, their leaders still see IT as a cost center, while only 21 percent feel their bosses view IT as a value generator.

When it comes to challenges, the CIOs cite facing issues that dominate the IT sector overall, as well as ones that might be considered unique to government:



Often considered a problem area for IT acquisitions, procurement practices are not as much of a trouble area for CIOs as one might expect, according to the CDG survey. Nearly three-quarters of CIOs (71 percent) said thy are satisfied with their organization’s current procurement practices. Somewhat linked to this issue is the use of agile software development, which can be a success or not, depending on how the procurement office embraces it for software acquisition. A majority of CIOs (65 percent) say agile is very or somewhat important to their TI efforts. Only 24 percent did not see agile as significant to application development.

Despite the upswing in the use of agile to help improve the success of IT projects, CIOs continue to struggle with a litany of problems that can slow down, derail or shut down an IT project completely. Respondents cited their top three reasons a project fails as poor project management, resistance to change and challenges in re-engineering business processes.

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