In brief

In brief

  • Accenture and NASCIO conducted the first biennial Cloud Study in 2021 to help state governments understand the state of cloud in the public sector.
  • We surveyed state CIOs to learn how states are transitioning to cloud, and what challenges and opportunities exist today.
  • Using survey results from 35 states, our findings will help a state government understand where their cloud adoption strategy is relative to others.
  • Our report includes a cloud maturity tool and ratings for states to measure their current cloud capabilities, plus actions they can take for progress.

Capitals in the cloud

As states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, they accelerated their move to digital services and elastic cloud solutions.


of public sector global leaders feel that accelerating cloud adoption is business critical


feel that it is essential to fuel innovation and enable new business models

Our first biennial Accenture-NASCIO Cloud Study is intended to be a reference to help state governments better understand the current positioning of cloud in the public sector. We surveyed state CIOs with the goal of helping states see where their cloud strategy is relative to the rest of the states and take possible actions to progress their cloud transitions. The study is divided into three sections:

  1. The State of the Industry
  2. Key Findings of State CIOs
  3. Pathways to Progress.

The state of the industry

The cloud market has evolved significantly since the early 2000s. The number of companies offering Software as a Service (SaaS) grew from 450 in 2000 to over 15,000 in 2020. Today, cloud has gone mainstream, and most industry observers agree that between 80-90% of enterprises have now adopted cloud services in some form. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated what had already been a steady migration of IT workloads to the cloud over the past several years.

States move to cloud

For state governments, though, the cloud market is still relatively new. The first mention of cloud services appeared on the NASCIO State CIO Top Ten priorities list in 2010. The increase in cloud adoption right before and during the pandemic has highlighted some growing pains as state leaders adapt to new operating models.

Our 2021 Accenture & NASCIO Cloud Study examines these growing pains, identifies the cloud challenges and opportunities that exist for state governments today and includes a cloud maturity tool and ratings with correlated actions a state government can consider to progress with their cloud transition.

Key findings summary

We aggregated cloud survey results that were submitted by 35 states in May 2021, and our key findings from these results will help a state government organization understand where their individual cloud adoption strategy is relative to the rest of the states.

57% of CIOs reported they have a statewide application inventory, 40% have an overall application risk assessment and 34% reported a legacy application assessment; gaps in understanding baseline inventory impede successful cloud strategy.

54% of CIOs reported that their state budget office has a preference for the best-suited funding model for cloud budgeting, OpEx (operating expenditure); 24% report a state budget preference for CapEx (capital expenditure budgeting), generally not conducive to effectively budgeting for cloud.

89% still have a mainframe computer, and 71% have not moved any mainframe applications to the cloud, a key step in enterprise cloud implementation.

CIOs reported an average of 22 cloud service providers per state, and 44% are using the services of an external cloud broker to help manage cloud services as offerings and conditions proliferate.

CIOs estimated much higher levels of adoption of cloud by agencies that need scalability and responsiveness, such as social, health and employment services, with public safety and justice agencies at the other end of the scale (lowest estimated level of adoption).

54% of CIOs reported their state has a cloud IT change management strategy in place, with most such plans—critically important to successful cloud implementation—integrated into a broader state IT change management plan.

CIOs flagged certain functionalities they would like to see more of in vendors’ cloud offerings, with integration, pricing and transparency topping the wish list.

About the Authors

Todd Kimbriel

Managing Director – Public Service, North America

Jenny Brodie

Senior Manager – Health & Public Service, Research

Doug Robinson

Executive Director – National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO)

Eric Sweden, MSIH MBA CGCIO™

Program Director – Enterprise Architecture & Governance, NASCIO


The cloud imperative for public service
Public Service cloud: A continuum of opportunity

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