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Addressing the fiscal challenge

Leveraging information technology to drive government efficiency

Overview

Corporate Partner Advisory Group Survey Series
Accenture Federal Services and Association of Government Accountants (AGA)

Information technology (IT) leaders in the federal government face operational and strategic challenges from a combination of constrained budgets, continuous advancements in technology, competing business requirements, compliance mandates and an aging workforce (which creates knowledge gaps). In addition, federal IT leaders must identify new ways of doing business to maximize limited monetary and human capital resources while aligning their IT function to their agency’s mission and strategic direction.

It was in this environment that we surveyed federal chief information officers (CIOs) and other federal IT professionals. Our survey focused on strategic areas of innovation, analytics, cyber security and human capital in an attempt to understand how the IT leader is navigating through this challenging environment.

Background

The Association of Government Accountants (AGA), in partnership with Accenture Federal Services, conducted a survey aimed at identifying federal IT leaders’ key issues and approaches to dealing with these issues in today’s environment of reduced budgets. Major topics include: innovation, analytics, cyber security and human capital.

The primary goal was to understand how leaders in the federal government IT community are responding to competing requirements, technology trends and other challenges in the current budget-constrained environment.

The survey team distributed an online questionnaire, consisting of 24 questions, to members of the IT and financial communities between May and August 2013. We received 100 responses from individuals in IT and finance leadership roles throughout the federal government. Also, the team met with five federal government CIOs to gain additional context and anecdotal evidence.

Key Findings

The survey looked at four key areas: Innovation, analytics, cyber security and human capital. We examined each of these areas critically and quantitatively to parse trends in the federal sector.

Innovation. Federal government organizations found innovation to be a critical component to reducing costs, enabling flexibility and adaptability, but budget constraints frequently challenge them in implementing new trends.

Analytics. Federal organizations see analytics as a valuable means to achieve organizational strategies and mission requirements, but few are effective in their use of analytics, despite the growing need for meaningful data analysis.

Cyber security. Federal IT leaders are responding to reduced funding by improving processes throughout the organization to address cyber security concerns and by prioritizing technology investments over non-essential full-time employees.

Human Capital. To address skills gaps as their top challenge, many organizations are turning to cross training. However, their greatest gaps are in soft-skill areas that are not easily “trained,” but rather developed with experience.

Analysis

The federal government’s increased reliance on IT has led massive amounts of data. In many cases, agencies have not adopted data analysis tools to perform statistical and quantitative analysis or predictive and explanatory modeling. IT leaders will continue to face the challenge of determining how best to use available data to support agency missions and meet growing data requirements around auditability and transparency—while dealing with budget pressures.

Manpower concerns and budget constraints are relevant. Having the budget to hire is only successful when the qualified candidates are willing to take the positions. Without the sufficient budget and offerings to attract higher-skilled workers, some agencies could soon experience greater impacts as a result of its aging workforce.

Looking forward, agency CIOs will increasingly find that innovation in the face of tightening budget constraints will necessitate collaboration with sister agencies to leverage proven solutions and staff. They will need to seek alternative contracting arrangements with the private sector, paying fees contingent on the business case, and where the cost of that service moves from being an upfront capital expense to a more predictable operating expense over time. personal branding and interviewing skills.

Related:
Watch a video on the survey findings and the changing role of technology in the federal government

Federal IT-Video

Increasingly, CIOs are partnering with their financial counterparts to unlock the potential of technology as a vital business tool. Together with the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), Accenture Federal Services surveyed CIOs to gain insights into their priorities and challenges as well as key trends. They range from the growing use of analytics to solve broader business problems, the move to enterprise resource planning in the Cloud, innovating on tight budgets and how a shared service provider can improve cyber security. This video provides highlights from a panel discussion at the 2013 AGA PDC about the survey findings and a look at CIOs’ rapidly expanding responsibilities.

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