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2012 Digital States Survey: Utah, Michigan Stay at the Head of the Class

Eight A grades and two D grades are reflective of disparate views of technology.

by / October 1, 2012

Michigan and Utah topped the 2012 Digital States Survey, a comprehensive biennial review of the technology practices of state governments conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG). CDG is the research and advisory division of e.Republic, the company that publishes Government Technology.

Ranking slightly behind Utah and Michigan — which earned the survey’s only A grades — were California, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, each earning an A minus. Twenty-two states earned B or B minus grades and 18 states received a C or C minus. Florida and Idaho received the lowest grades in this year's survey, earning D grades. Results were released by the CDG on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

CDG Executive Director Todd Sander explained that the survey reveals two different approaches to technology in light of the challenging economic circumstances still plaguing U.S. states. "In some states, technology is viewed as a way to mitigate and overcome those pressures and in other places, it's viewed as a cost center and something to be cut back and reduced," Sander said.

Other hallmarks of success in the survey, according to Sander, were a willingness to explore nontraditional opportunities for collaboration and to embrace the flexibility needed for effective responses to mobility trends.

Most states submitted responses to a series of survey questions, focusing on IT leadership, service delivery, citizen engagement, innovation and collaboration. For those states not submitting information, evaluators considered several factors, including interviews and various other interactions with CDG staff throughout the survey period.  Researchers, executives and senior fellows from the Center for Digital Government were involved in the comprehensive evaluation process that resulted in each state’s grade.

2012 Digital States Survey grades were determined based on the following criteria:

  1. Strategy, approach, implementation or actions are shown to be consistent with and in support of state priorities and policies to improve operations and/or services (35 percent).
  2. A quantifiable and demonstrable return on investment in hard dollar savings and/or soft dollar benefits has been achieved (25 percent).
  3. Demonstrated and verifiable progress over the previous two years, either through a new initiative or incremental improvement of an existing program or effort (15 percent).
  4. Innovation or creativity was used in the solutions or approaches (15 percent).
  5. Demonstration of effective collaboration including multijurisdictional and interdepartmental (10 percent).

A Grade States

These states are trending sharply up. They demonstrated results across all survey categories. Nimble leaders use modernization to implement strategic priorities and operational efficiencies. They show evidence of meaningful collaboration. Performance measures and metrics are widely adopted. Cuts tend to be made strategically.

B Grade States

These states are trending up. They demonstrated results in many survey categories. Leadership uses modernization to change entrenched practices to prepare for more sustainable operations. Collaboration incentives are in place, measures are used in key areas and cuts tend to be made across the board.

C Grade States

These states are stable and demonstrating results in some survey categories. Modernization is used to realize operational efficiencies. This grade level includes states that launched reforms but have not fully harvested their results. Organizational constraints limit collaboration, and performance measures are uneven. Cuts have constrained progress.

D Grade States

These states are trending down. They demonstrated results in at least one category. Modernization tends to be siloed and limited. There is little evidence of collaboration and few performance measures. In addition, cuts threaten operational viability.

The infographic below shows each state’s grade in the 2012 Digital States Survey.


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Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.

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