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Many CIOs Support IT Reform Legislation

Many government chief information officers support a proposed congressional overhaul that would give them broader authority over how their agencies buy information technology.

Many government chief information officers support a proposed congressional overhaul that would give them broader authority over how their agencies buy information technology. // Orhan Cam/

Many government chief information officers think a proposed congressional overhaul that would give them broader authority over how their agencies buy information technology is a “step in the right direction,” according to TechAmerica’s CIO Insights survey released Thursday.

CIOs aren’t all of one mind, though, about provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act that would give them authority to shift IT budget priorities and to cut funding to over budget or underperforming projects, Grant Thornton Principal George DelPrete said. Grant Thornton sponsored the survey with TechAmerica.

In congressional testimony, CIOs have typically avoided saying whether such budget authority would be helpful. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has said authority over IT spending is less important than CIOs having “a seat at the table” during agency mission discussions with other high ranking officials.

“In some departments, the amount of IT spending [CIOs] control is as low as 1 percent,” DelPrete said, “so it’s hard to make them accountable for that. [But] not all of the folks we interviewed felt you could give complete control to a departmental CIO so the one-size-fits-all model is not going to work. CIOs need a mix of budget visibility, accountability and responsibility.”

One suggestion, DelPrete added, “was perhaps departmental CIOs could be responsible for the infrastructure, commodity enterprise applications and software, and program CIOs could control mission applications.”

The survey was based on in-person interviews with government CIOs, information resources management officials, and relevant congressional staffers. All answers were anonymous in the final report.

The survey also found:

  • Despite years of attempts to shift more IT spending to new initiatives, 76 percent of spending still goes to the operation and maintenance of existing systems.
  • CIOs praised PortfolioStat, a top-to-bottom review of spending on commodity IT such as phone and Internet service, for rationalizing their technology portfolios. Several CIOs said it’s too early to tell whether the program will result in lower IT spending in the long term.
  • The 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management, introduced by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra in 2010, is no longer driving agency IT priorities, CIOs said. They praised the plan, though, for its emphasis on consolidating federal data centers and moving government computing to the cloud, both of which remain major priorities. In the survey, 94 percent of respondents said their agency had adopted or will adopt cloud services.
  • CIOs consider themselves unprepared to manage a new crop of analysis tools focused on culling meaning from unstructured data such as video and sensor information. On a scale of 1 to 5, 78 percent of respondents rated their maturity with analytics at 3 or less, the survey said. 

(Image via Orhan Cam/

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