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CIOs Rethink the IT Department

IT chiefs react to looming retirements and tech changes.

by / July 6, 2015
Stephen Elkins, CIO of Austin, Texas, says he will utilize flexible sourcing to deal with the impending baby boomer retirement wave. e.Republic/David Kidd

Technological changes and demographic forces are reshaping government IT departments. After delaying retirement plans during the recession, a large chunk of the public-sector IT workforce is once again poised to ride off into the sunset. Nearly half of all state workers are between 45 and 64 years old, a Congressional Research Service report pointed out in 2014. And cities like Los Angeles say as much as 60 percent of their technology staff will reach retirement age within the next few years.

At the same time, an improving employment market for skilled technology workers makes it tougher for government agencies to hire qualified replacements. With competition for tech talent heating up, agencies struggle to match private-sector salaries, office environments, schedule flexibility and other factors. It's little wonder that state and local CIOs consistently rank hiring and retaining skilled IT staff as a top concern.

These pressures are pushing CIOs toward greater adoption of cloud services, innovative staffing options and efforts to appeal to a new generation of workers. At the recent Texas Digital Government Summit in Austin, Government Technology asked state and local CIOs how their organizations will evolve over the next several years. They say they are rebalancing the ratio of permanent to contract staff, automating processes and engaging new partners to acquire the skills and resources they need.

Flexible Sourcing Helps Austin CIO Cope with Staff Retirements
The city of Austin’s IT department is dealing with the baby boomer retirement wave with a strategy that city CIO Stephen Elkins calls flexible sourcing, which envisions greater use of managed services and temporary staff.

Travis County’s IT Evolution
Tanya Acevedo, CIO of Travis County, Texas, says her staff will get leaner over the next three to five years as processes become more automated and the county increases its reliance on partners for security and data center services. As that happens, Travis County’s internal IT staff will focus on technology to support unique business requirements.

Texas Workforce Commission Wants to Tell a Better Story
With much of its IT staff reaching retirement age, the Texas Workforce Commission is launching a new internship program and looking for ways to tell its story to a younger generation of workers, says Lisa Richardson, the agency’s CIO.

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Steve Towns

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic. 

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