State CIOs Face "New Engine" in Role Transitions, 2017 State CIO Reveals

AUSTIN, Tex., October 3, 2017 – Shifting business models, emerging technologies that redefine "IT" and the drive to implement digital government lead a long list of challenges facing state CIOs, according to new research released today at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference.

"The results of our 2017 survey highlights the critical leadership role of the state CIO," said Doug Robinson, executive director of NASCIO. "The need to sustain transformation and innovation will require CIOs to rethink the role and structure of their organization to serve the needs of state government."

A New Engine: Driving Innovation in State Technology, published jointly by NASCIO, Grant Thornton LLP and CompTIA, surveyed state CIOs on a range of issues, from cybersecurity and cloud migration plans to data management and the delivery of digital government services. 

"The nature of the state CIO role continues to evolve, with broker models becoming the norm and CIOs having to address the workforce, vendor and financial management challenges this brings," said Graeme Finley, principal with Grant Thornton's Public Sector practice. "The emergence of technologies such as the Internet of Things, drones and autonomous vehicles are also challenging the very definition of what should be considered 'IT' under the purview of the CIO."

Cybersecurity Remains a Key Priority
Almost all CIOs surveyed report they lead or participate in cybersecurity policy setting. More than 80 percent are responsible for setting overall direction and oversight. In contrast, only 64 percent are directly responsible for program execution. With recent legislation and executive orders expanding and strengthening, the CIO's role in cybersecurity efforts is expected to increase.

Metrics program to collect, analyze and report data on security processes, performance, and outcomes are in place in most states. Approximately one-quarter have a fully operational program, while nearly 70 percent are planning or establishing such a program. A fully operational program with documented outcomes is vital to garnering more political support and increased funding.

Internet of Things Leads Emerging Technology Landscape
There is growing recognition among state CIOs of the need to address emerging technologies by design rather than by default. Over the next three to five years, surveyed CIOs are most interested in the Internet of Things (43 percent) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (29 percent). Ten percent said digital assistants will be most impactful, and nine percent cast their vote for blockchain. 

Workforce Challenges Persist 
States continue to struggle to find and keep qualified IT talent, especially in the area of cybersecurity. Generally, IT job candidates do not perceive state government as an attractive and challenging work environment. When asked about the single personnel change that would be effective in reforming the state IT workforce, "modernizing IT job titles and classifications" ranked highest (31 percent). 

To attract and retain qualified staff, 71 percent of state CIOs are "promoting non-salary benefits like greater stability and diversity of experience." Incentivizing recruits with a call to public service and offering public/private internships were other popular strategies cited. 

Surprisingly, only 17 percent of CIOs indicated their organization had someone with primary responsibility for IT workforce initiatives including talent management, recruitment, and employee development and branding. 

The complete report A New Engine: Driving Innovation in State Technology is available on the NASCIO website at