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The Relationship Between State and Industry

Government Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have a lot on their plate. They are not just the head of their state’s IT department, but they are also charged with setting the state’s overall IT strategy. In order to help improve efficiency and stay up to date, CIOs are now focusing on agile project management. Agile project management focuses on a small and iterative development style rather than the historically robust waterfall approach to project management. The move to agile was one of the top ten State Chief Information Officer Priorities for 2016 according to a new survey.

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NASCIO, Grant Thornton LLP and CompTIA worked together to build their sixth annual survey, 2015 State CIO Survey: The Value Equation, that discusses current trends, perspectives, and best practices around government IT at the state level. As one of the ten priorities for 2016, the survey outlines the need to focus on “Agile and Incremental Software Delivery [as an] iterative design and incremental development of software solutions, [which] allows for design modifications, prototyping and addition of new capabilities as part of the development process.”

This revelation shows that although “industry’s perception is that this move is not something that government is open to or engaged in, they are,” Jennifer Grutzius, Director of State and Local Government and Education at CompTIA, said.

What does this move mean for the relationship between state government and industry? “CIOs are seeing themselves as more of a broker,” Grutzius stated. In this role, CIOs are centralized brokers for shared IT services. Grutzius shared in a blog, 2015 CIO Survey and CIOs as Brokers, that “The number of CIOs that are outsourcing some of their IT applications and services has jumped 37% over the last five years. To further the point, fewer CIOs are owning and operating data centers and all state IT assets and operations.” As CIOs are brokering, vendors are now managing and maintaining more of the daily tasks of the IT systems.

Both vendors and state CIOs can work to make the transition of roles and responsibilities smoother. Vendors need to continuously make an effort to understand each state’s IT procurement procedures. “About half of the states are centralized in their IT and the other half are not. Some of them are centralized in IT, but not in their budgeting or their procurement authorities,” Grutzius explained. Therefore, vendors need to learn the lay of the land and how each state approaches IT procurement, because each state is different.

In turn, states need to work on clearly communicating their IT requirements upfront. “Vendors want uniformity across states,” but as this isn’t possible at the moment, due to the varied methods of IT procurement, states can help clearly communicate their target so that vendors can more easily help achieve the end goal. Additionally, states need to embrace the mentality that by setting measurable objectives, they can not only show off the value of a CIO or project, but they can improve the relationship between state government and industry overall “What gets measured gets done,” Grutzius stated. She mentioned Illinois’ success in sharing their results to the general public and hopes to see more of these public transparency initiatives.

In fact, she hopes to see more sharing of best practices among state government and industry overall. She mentioned wanting to see some guidance for CIOs and industry to help centralize IT at the state level in 2016. “There isn’t a lot of perspective from other states who have gone through the experience, through the growing pains, and have some ways to avoid them,” Grutzius said.

As states’ IT systems continue to focus on agile project management, the relationship between CIOs and industry is more important than ever before. The need for open communication and transparency from all sides is key to the continued success of IT systems across state levels.

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