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Government Leaders Fail to Fund New IT Infrastructure

Given the typical complexity of planning and achieving a digital transformation, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) within federal, state or local governments have many challenges. As an example, they must rely upon the financial approval of elected or appointed leaders that are incapable of understanding the current business technology landscape.

Government CIOs struggle to obtain funding for qualified independent consultants that can help them to validate their requirements for modern IT infrastructure. Some IT vendors provide professional services that offer transformation guidance, but it's often inconclusive. A survey has uncovered the key issues.

Government IT Market Development

Fifty-eight percent of government CIOs faced organizational disruption during the past four years, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they had also faced a funding shortfall in that same timeframe.

Note, these figures are higher than those for all other industries.

"Governments are struggling in many areas, following disruptions including changes in leadership, reorganizations and funding shortfalls. For many government CIOs, disruption will affect their IT budget growth, and the funding and launch of new business initiatives will suffer," said Alia Mendonsa, senior research director at Gartner. "Inflexible funding models exacerbate this issue, due to budgetary processes and cycles within government."

Many CIOs of government organizations are still developing their digital transformation leadership skills. Moreover, the government sector is often deficient in all aspects of strategy -- particularly in its ability to communicate a clear agenda that articulates how the organization will achieve its vision.

The Gartner survey found that only 48 percent of government CIOs said their organization had a clear and consistent overall business strategy.

"In the absence of a formal business strategy, government CIOs need to incorporate strategic business outcomes into their digital government strategy. Business outcomes will be validated by the business as part of the strategy approval process," said Ms. Mendonsa.

However, on a more positive note, the survey results showed that government CIOs are ahead of other industries in enhancing citizen-centricity by developing and delivering digital services, however they remain slightly behind other industries in most IT process domains.

According to the Gartner assessment, in order to resolve this deficiency, government CIOs should assess the maturity of their IT processes to identify areas of strength and weakness, then prioritize implementation of improved processes and workflows according to the results.

The survey found that data and analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies remain game-changers for government CIOs in 2020. Survey results showed that within the next 12 months the majority of the respondents had already deployed or are focused on deploying cybersecurity (84 percent), AI (37 percent) and robotic process automation (33 percent).

Outlook for Government IT Digital Transformation

"Government CIOs need to prioritize investment in emerging technologies according to potential value for their institution," said Ms. Mendonsa. "More mature technologies such as cloud and data and analytics offer immediate benefits in terms of capability and scalability for delivering digital government services, and therefore may be prioritized."

Furthermore, experiments with AI and robotic process automation may start small initially, and once their value can be demonstrated, initiatives involving these emerging technologies may be scaled up over time.

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