Government CIOs Have More Clout, Shorter Terms

Researchers surveyed public- and private-sector CIOs worldwide.

Government chief information officers stay in their positions one year less on average than their private sector peers, according to new research by Gartner.

The government-specific results of a worldwide CIO survey, which included 398 public sector CIOs from all tiers of government, found that the average tenure of a government CIO is 3.8 years, compared to an average of 4.8 years across all other industries.

In addition, most government CIOs have responsibilities outside of information technology, spanning areas like business, management and finance. Seventy-six percent of CIOs surveyed said they have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT, with only 24 percent having no responsibilities outside of IT.

With government CIOs continuing to have more business responsibilities, the days of “doing more with less” are on the decline, at least for the IT department, the survey found. In fact, many CIOs report that budgets have stabilized or are increasing, placing them in a better position to more effectively manage and deliver IT services. The focus on leveraging IT to drive innovation and improve government performance is actually ahead of the private sector, a surprise considering government usually lags behind the private sector in this area, Gartner found.

CIOs also ranked their priorities for 2013, and it’s no surprise that improving the government IT workforce moved to the No. 2 spot in 2013, up from No. 9 in 2012. “To support broad institutional change, CIOs recognize they must invest in a workforce that can collaborate effectively with agency leaders and program managers to identify business priorities, as well as design and implement solutions that match those priorities,” said Gartner Research Director Rick Howard.

Among top technology priorities, CIOs ranked business intelligence and analytics, legacy modernization, IT management, collaboration, mobile devices and mobile workforce application at the top, while security, cloud computing and virtualization fell lower on the list.