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What Are Government Chief Information Officers Doing Now?

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) held its annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, this past week. So what were the highlights? From the Internet of Things (IoT) to cloud computing to data center consolidation, which projects, technologies and issues rose to the top of the agenda? Most important, what’s on the minds of government CIOs, and what projects are they actually implementing as we move into 2016?

by / October 18, 2015
NASCIO Annual Conference in Utah

If you ask state government technology leaders about their enterprise priorities, what’s happening regarding the management of technology in government, and what actions are likely as we head into 2016, what would they say?

Those questions are answered in the survey results released this week by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). The survey, which was was conducted by CompTIA and Grant Thornton, covered a long list of topics including: business models, sourcing (procurement), CIO as a broker, agile and software delivery methods and critical success factors for CIOs.

What were the highlights from the survey? Here are 10 key takeaways:

  1)      CIOs are moving from the provider of services to the broker of services.

  2)      Consolidation of technology services is key.

  3)      Exit strategies must be written into contracts up front.

  4)      Rapid delivery of software is key, but states are struggling to effectively implement agile development.

  5)      The top leadership traits required include: Communicator, strategist and relationship manager. The ability of state CIOs to work well with the governor and/or state department heads is a huge indicator of success.

  6)      The most critical factors/dimensions focused on to advance agendas and drive results include enterprise vision/strategy as well as security and risk management.

  7)      Most CIOs are taking the lead in advocating for data as a strategic asset as the core of their enterprise data management approach.

  8)      Mobile initiatives continue to rise in importance as a priority – including the management of devices and applications.

  9)      The use of cloud services is growing. “… Email/collaboration and office productivity software continue at the most advanced stages of implementation, with almost all states planning some type of cloud service migration. A large number of states also continue to plan or have implemented storage, disaster recovery and geographic information systems services in the cloud. Hosting of application software in the cloud is still relatively rare, but more states are now exploring this, and it appears that almost two thirds of states have some kind of cloud-based application software initiative underway or planned. ...”

  10)   Cybersecurity projects continue to grow and receive a higher priority compared to previous years. For example: Eleven percent more states have established trusted partnerships for information sharing and response, and 20 percent more states have purchased a cyberinsurance policy.

A NASCIO press release offered this quote about the survey results: "State CIOs continue to preside over an increasingly diverse set of service delivery models and sourcing options," said Doug Robinson, executive director of NASCIO. "At the same time, customer expectations continue to rise, so state CIOs must be agile enough to adapt to changing circumstances and to rapidly deliver business value." 

Also covered in the survey were new topics like the Internet of Things (IoT) with 53 percent of respondents investigating new opportunities as well as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with 38 percent of CIOs supporting efforts as needed or in an ad hoc manner.

Smart Government Themes Headline NASCIO Annual Conference

NASCIO held its 2015 Annual Conference at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, from Oct. 11-14, 2015.

One panel examined these CIO survey results in detail. In addition to this important report, NASCIO also released an excellent toolkit for state cybersecurity leaders during the conference.

As far as the event details, great summaries of Day 1 and Day 2 from the NASCIO Annual Conference are provided by Noelle Knell and Steve Towns, so I won’t repeat what they summarized so well.

Day 3 of the conference focused on cybersecurity in several states, with Thomas M. Jarrett Scholarship award winners providing brief, but memorable, summaries from their state cybersecurity programs. The 2015 winners included:

      -       Danielle Alvarez, Chief Information Officer, State of Florida 

      -       John Essner, Chief Information Officer, State of New Jersey 

      -       Bill Nash, Chief Information Officer, State of Wisconsin

Cybersecurity was also a central theme for discussions about smart government and the oncoming Internet of Things (IoT) challenges. Panelists from multiple states agreed that history seems to be repeating itself regarding security and new IoT technologies. Everyone agreed that IoT is here to stay. Technology leaders cannot ignore smart government trends with new innovative opportunities. At the same time, states need to establish frameworks to manage IoT and build policies and standards to help with security management.

While on the security theme, Michigan CIO David Behen described his plans to move more applications and services to the cloud, and he is not afraid of the security implications. You can see his interview here:


Wrap-up: CIO Trends & New Leadership

There were some constant themes that kept rising to the top over four days in Salt Lake City. Attracting and retaining technology and security talent was a top challenge, which was underlined by the number of new CIOs representing states in 2015 as compared to 2014. Note: more than one-third of state CIOs are new since the last NASCIO annual conference in Nashville.

NASCIO also ushered in its new executive leadership for the coming year, after a hugely successful year led by Ohio CIO Stu Davis.

In the next few weeks, NASCIO will release its 2016 priority list. As Doug Robinson announced during one session: “Cybersecurity is sure to continue at (or near) the top of the 2016 priority list.” 

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