Budget tops list of concerns in annual CIO survey

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Budget is the top concern among federal chief information officers in an annual survey from TechAmerica and Grant Thorton, published May 2. Based on interviews with 41 federal CIOs, report authors say federal information technology leaders are concerned about budget constraints caused by the continuing resolution and sequestration, and inadequate budget authorities that impact how much control they have over IT programs.

Twenty-eight percent of CIOs surveyed say budget is their primary concern. The survey estimates that more than 76 percent of IT spending goes to operations and maintenance, although 60 percent of federal CIOs admit they're not confident in their ability to estimate and track IT expenditures. Getting their arms around the total cost of ownership of IT is a challenge, they told interviewers.

"Most CIOs say achieving true efficiencies will be just an aspiration until they have control and oversight over IT budgets," says the report.

One area where spending has clearly increased is cybersecurity. Sixty-three percent of CIOs surveyed said spending on cybersecurity has increased by up to 10 percent. Nine percent of all IT spending is on cybersecurity, finds the report.

The second highest-ranking concern is human capital, cited by 21 percent of CIOs. Generally, CIOs feel the pathways program and the presidential innovation fellows are good avenues for bringing talent to government, but the ongoing hiring freeze means federal IT is losing talent to the private sector, they say.

The report finds a 50 percent contractor to 50 percent federal employee workforce mix is typical in CIO shops, but several say a mix of one-third contractors to two-thirds federal employees would be ideal.

"Most CIOs did not anticipate a change in the nearly equal mix of federal employees and contractor staff," write report authors.

Reliance on contractors will and must increase as government pushes more toward managed services, say report authors.

The survey reveals that CIOs don't feel like they're not on the same page as acquisition workers. There needs to be better training and partnerships if CIOs are going to successfully move to a "buying by the drink" model, according to the report.

Seventy-one percent of CIOs say challenges have worsened over the last 2 years, and one CIO suggested acquisition workers spend time on detail within the CIO's office.

The 25 point plan is no longer driving agency priorities, finds the survey. Only cloud and datacenter consolidation have stayed at the forefront for CIOs. However, PortfolioStat, another Office of Management and Budget initiative, is being embraced by CIO, the study says. Several CIOs interviewed say the program is helping them shine a light on spending, finds the report.

In many ways the song remains the same on federal IT on budget people security governance, said Dave McClure, associate administrator at the General Services Administration's office of citizen services and innovative technologies during a panel discussion following the report's release.

"You could probably put yourself in a time capsule back 15 years and the same issues will be there," he said.

For more:
- download the survey, "CIO Insights Leading Innovation in a Time of Change," (.pdf)

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