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This detailed discussion addresses the evolving role of the CIO and outlines four areas where CIOs must focus to make IT an integral part of a high-performance government:
By focusing on those areas, CIOs can steer their organizations through the crisis and beyond, demonstrating the relevance of the CIO as a critical component of state leadership.
State and local governments in the US and Canada are grappling with the most profound fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Major demographic and political upheaval, technological innovations and citizens’ demands concurrently besiege governments from all sides. And these forces are creating even more challenges for state governments looking to reduce their costs while providing citizens the level of service afforded to them in the private sector.
In the center of the maelstrom stands the CIO. More than ever, governments rely on information technology in addressing budget shortfalls while adding value for citizens. However, technology alone is not the answer. To be successful, CIOs must play a multidimensional leadership role that requires understanding the business needs in the new government environment and ensuring that technology serves those needs
Historically, many public sector CIOs have focused on their traditional role of managing systems and expenditures at the expense of strategy and investments. But to ensure government success—and to lead their state toward a better future—CIOs will need to shift their focus to new areas, such as:
Mastering collaborative IT governance. Collaborative governance enables CIOs to strengthen their ability to make, sponsor and enforce the right investment decisions and derive strategic value from IT.
Restructuring government IT organizations. By taking an enterprise management approach to IT, CIOs can integrate and streamline their structures and processes and—even with fewer resources—enhance the long-term productivity of their operations to deliver higher quality services to citizens.
Collaborating across jurisdictional boundaries. States can achieve tremendous savings when they leverage synergies and economies of scale in delivering IT across traditional local, state and federal perimeters.
Using new technologies while ensuring a more secure environment. CIOs must embrace new technologies to improve business performance while making cybersecurity an imperative.
Forging more public/private partnerships. Creative partnerships between government and the private sector offer ways to deliver services more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Transforming government operations is a huge challenge for CIOs—but it also represents a major opportunity. Unlike efforts in past economic downturns, public sector CIOs must be at the table with business leaders to help facilitate government transformation. No longer can effective CIOs focus strictly on technology operations. Rather, today’s CIOs must provide policy recommendations and leadership beyond their typical IT operational roles.
By embracing proactive and forward-thinking governance and success measures, CIOs have an important role to play in helping leadership reach better fiscal outcomes. Forward-looking measures include mastering collaborative IT governance, restructuring government organizations, collaborating across jurisdictional boundaries, using new technologies and forging public/private partnerships.
Other, broader strokes that CIOs should consider on the path to high performance include embracing collaborative platforms, cloud computing, Web 2.0 technologies, shared services and IT consolidation, to name just a few. Savvy CIOs are becoming change agents and joining government business leaders to explore ways to reduce back-office cost, improve program efficiencies and optimize revenue generation.
For CIOs, emerging stronger from the crisis also involves:
Better managing the IT enterprise—fight the silos while building the enterprise.
Dealing with politics—recognize that, especially in a budget crisis, politics are alive and real for government CIOs
Enhancing employee morale—create an innovative environment with incentives to promote change.
Building collaborative partnerships—collaborate with program and technology partners.
Celebrating success—declare victory for the IT departments whenever possible, because success breeds success.
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