It's Official: Governors Want Strong State CIOs

It's Official: Governors Want Strong State CIOs

Gov. Paul Patton

By Steve LeSueur, Staff Writer

The nation's governors are moving to strengthen the authority of their chief information officers, a move that should help both government and the technology companies that serve the states, government and industry officials said.

A little more than half the states have CIOs with broad authority to help direct IT policy across executive agencies and functions, said Thom Rubel, a director in the Center for Best Practices at the National Governors' Association.

But preliminary results of a new survey reveal that many of the governors who have not yet established a CIO position with statewide authority intend to do so within the next 12 to 14 months, he said.

The complete survey should be ready in the fall, said officials with the Washington-based NGA.

With information technologies playing a central role in efforts to transform government operations and services, governors now realize they need CIOs with statewide authority to oversee IT spending and projects, said Rubel, who authored an earlier study, "Managing State Information Technology: Defining the Role of the CIO."

A CIO can help resolve disputes and problems that sometimes occur between the vendor and its state customer on major procurements, said David Pingree, a vice president of government relations for Unisys Corp. of Blue Bell, Pa.

But if a CIO lacks broad decision-making authority, "you find, on both sides, you get yourselves locked into a litigious position where people are not communicating with one another and everyone loses," he said.

Also, a CIO also can promote standardization of IT systems and coordinate electronic commerce projects among the agencies, industry officials said.

One governor who uses a strong CIO to help guide his state's IT policy is Paul Patton (D) of Kentucky. Patton signed legislation last year creating the CIO position after observing the lack of coordination among different agency IT projects.

Patton had complained the agencies were not paying attention to any of the IT support organizations that were supposed to be managing Kentucky's technology efforts.

"But I put in a CIO with authority that stretches over the spectrum of state government, and we finally have our agencies working together to build effective systems to purchase technology and make them serve the people of Kentucky," he said at an Aug. 9 meeting of the governor's IT Task Force in St. Louis.

Aldona Valicenti, Kentucky's CIO, told governors at the meeting that Kentucky views information as a strategic resource.

"Share the information, don't duplicate it," she said.

She also said the key to success for the chief information officer is to "look at technology issues from an enterprise perspective."

Patton agreed, saying that not only does his CIO need to make sure the agencies purchase the best systems, but also that those systems are compatible.

"She has to look at the big picture," he told Washington Technology.

No single model of the chief information officer position is right for every state, said Rubel. Nevertheless, a governor needs "to create an environment that will maximize the CIO's ability to maintain budget and operational controls necessary to achieve overall state IT goals," he wrote in his study for the governors.

This likely would require having a CIO who reports to the governor or a cabinet-level officer.

The annual salaries of state CIOs range from $61,000 to more than $100,000, according to the study. Fourteen percent earned less than $70,000, while 18 percent earned more than $100,000.

In the private sector, the chief information officer typically is given broad budget and management authority to achieve organizational goals.

"Governors must recognize that state CIOs will require similar empowerment to achieve similar results," said the study.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here


  • POWER TRAINING: How to engage your customers

    Don't miss our Aug. 2 Washington Technology Power Training session on Mastering Stakeholder Engagement, where you'll learned the critical skills you need to more fully connect with your customers and win more business. Read More


    In our latest Project 38 Podcast, editor Nick Wakeman interviews Tom Romeo, the leader of Maximus Federal about how it has zoomed up the 2019 Top 100. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.