Despite a continuing drive to lower the cost of IT services, Gartner claim that nearly 75% of government IT budgets globally were reported as flat or increasing in 2013.
The results are according to the Gartner Executive Programs 2013 CIO Agenda survey, and show a contrast to the private sector, which is significant as management practices, financial indicators, business metrics and the adoption of IT in government generally lag behind those of the private sector.
"After years of being told to "do more with less," many government CIOs report that budgets have stabilised or are increasing, placing them in a better position to deliver and manage IT services more effectively and efficiently," said Gartner research director Rick Howard.
"These CIOs are now poised to boost the business value of IT by radically restructuring their services portfolio to drive innovation and improve the performance of government."
When compared to other sectors of the economy, the relatively brighter IT budget outlook in government may be short-lived, according to Gartner analysts.
Gartner’s CEO and Senior Executive survey 2013 indicated that private-sector business leaders are poised to boost investments in e-commerce, mobile, cloud, social and other major technology categories.
Despite this, Gartner projects a modest compound annual growth rate of 1.3%t for IT spending in the government and education sectors through to the end of 2017, with increased spending for IT services, software and data centres. These increases are offset by reductions in internal technology services, devices and telecom services.
CIOs in government indicated that reducing overall business costs is now more important than reducing IT costs alone, which will permit government CIOs to accelerate enterprise-scale initiatives. The business and technology priorities of government CIOs are strongly aligned with their peers from all industries globally, with a few small differences.
For the third consecutive year, reducing enterprise costs ranked among the top three business priorities for government CIOs in 2013. In conjunction with the imperative to deliver operational results and the need to modernise IT applications and infrastructure, CIOs have affirmed the means by which IT can be used to transform government agency operations and their own bottom-line accountability to do so.
"When faced with unsustainable business models, government executives are more willing to make targeted technology investments and undergo the extensive organisational change necessary to achieve the productivity and quality gains made possible by IT," said Mr Howard. "Introducing new technology services and workforce capabilities will establish IT as a key partner in achieving business results that matter to citizens and agency employees."
The top three technology priorities in 2013 have all changed since 2012, with business intelligence and analytics moving from No. 5 to the top spot, followed by legacy modernisation and IT management. By placing analytics and business intelligence at the top of the list, government CIOs are addressing government’s need to proactively manage programs and services.
In terms of strategic priorities improving the government IT organisation and workforce has moved to the No. 2 spot in 2013 from No. 9 in 2012, which is shifting the responsibilities of CIOs and IT professionals away from most legacy technology services to underserved areas of business need.
"To support broad institutional change, CIOs recognise they must invest in a workforce that can collaborate effectively with agency leaders and programme managers to identify business priorities, as well as design and implement solutions that match those priorities," said Howard.
The 2013 CIO Agenda survey also indicated that 76% of government CIOs have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT, with only 24% having no responsibilities beyond IT.
"What is certain is that many of the information, business process and project management roles that have been developed over time by IT on a default or "best fit" basis are now being embraced as competencies by business units, as a result of consumerisation and the commoditisation of technology," said Howard. "Rather than viewing these trends as a threat, astute CIOs will embrace them as a means to extend their influence and value to areas outside of traditional IT."
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