State IT Leaders Adapting to Evolving Tech Environment, 2016 State CIO Survey Reveals

State CIOs are becoming brokers of technology services rather than providers, as data center consolidation progresses and outsourcing of IT applications and services expands, according to new research released today at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference.
The Adaptable State CIO, published jointly by NASCIO, Grant Thornton LLP and CompTIA, takes the pulse of how state CIOs are adapting to an evolving technology environment and rapid changes in innovation, business, security, privacy, and the workforce. 
“The results of our 2016 survey highlight the critical leadership role of the state CIO,” said Doug Robinson, Executive Director of NASCIO. “As shown in the survey topics, their portfolio is already diverse and new technology and business opportunities will require constant adaptation to serve the needs of state government.” 
“The state CIO must be increasingly agile as he or she navigates the shifting IT and business landscapes, as well as citizen expectations,” said Graeme Finley, managing director in Grant Thornton’s State and Local Public Sector practice. “The perspectives of these CIOs will be especially valuable to state governors, legislatures and business leaders as they work to strengthen and protect essential state IT services.”
The seventh annual survey reveals a continued reduction in state-owned-and-operated data centers and increased use of outsourcing. More than two-thirds of states now outsource at least some IT infrastructure operations. While outsourcing of operations is becoming increasingly common, continued movement toward some type of managed services model appears to be the norm for most states in future years—nearly two-thirds use a managed services model for some or all IT operations. 
Countering the outsourcing trend, however, is the finding that almost one in five CIOs expect certain operations that are currently outsourced will be brought back in-house. This may reflect lessons learned from first generation outsourcing experiences and evaluations of which operations and services are the best fit for outsourcing.

Workforce Challenges Persist 

State governments continue to face challenges in recruitment, development and retention of IT professionals as they compete with the private sector for talent. 

The 2016 survey finds that state CIOs are innovating and promoting the experiences available only in government that the private sector cannot offer, and it seems to be working. Promoting non-salary benefits and a call to public service are two of the most effective strategies. 

State CIOs also suggest that updating job titles and classifications and modernizing office culture with benefits such as flexible work schedules and telecommuting are changes that would positively impact the state IT workforce.
“With so many states setting the pace for innovation, driven by cloud-based solutions, mobile technologies and the Internet of Things, public service has much to offer prospective technology workers,” said Jennifer Saha, Director of State & Local Government and Education at CompTIA. “But state CIOs are wise to do some self-examination of the tactics and strategies they’re using to attract new talent. Practices that worked a few years ago when it was a buyer’s market for employment may no longer be as relevant in a tight labor market.”

Dealing with Data 

The overwhelming majority of state CIOs consider data governance and management to be a key element of their strategic agendas and operational plans. There has been significant progress in this area in the last several years. The overwhelming majority of respondents indicate their state is integrating or has an interest in the integration of data analytics to develop insights and inform policy decisions.

The complete report The Adaptable State CIO is available on the NASCIO website at