CIOs expect more outsourcing

Federal CIOs expect to outsource more information technology projects to the private sector during the coming year, especially in areas where agencies lack in-house resources or technical expertise, according to a new survey.

But CIOs are also skeptical of administration efforts to increase the number of public-private competitions for IT work currently performed by agency employees.

"Although the CIOs recognize the president's intention to identify and put into competition large portions of commercial services currently conducted by the federal government, many CIOs voiced the opinion that they have already indirectly met the objective by already contracting out the largest portion of information technology services," said the Information Technology Association of America in a report containing the results of its 13th annual survey of federal CIOs.

The CIOs also expressed doubts about their ability to manage large numbers of contractors if significant portions of current government work are outsourced, according to the report.

ITAA, which released the survey Feb. 20, interviewed 35 CIOs from 33 agencies on three topics: the President's Management Agenda, homeland security and Defense Department transformation.

Federal IT managers said their main concerns revolved around the five pieces of President Bush's Management Agenda.

Supporting e-government is of great concern to most CIOs, but amassing the resources necessary to ensure success has been a major obstacle, the report said.

CIOs also told ITAA that the Office of Management and Budget's requirement to demonstrate the need for IT investment through business cases is a significant hurdle because most agencies lack experience putting them together. Most CIOs said they support the investment management process but need more staff expertise.

Hiring and retaining technical staff and program managers also is a barrier to achieving the administration's e-government goals, CIOs said.

OMB's 25 e-government initiatives also give CIOs cause for concern because funding and staffing resources are limited. ITAA said IT managers especially were hard pressed to gain resources from other agencies because of the government's appropriations process and reluctance among individual agencies to provide funds for cross-agency initiatives.

CIOs said OMB has paid too little attention to integrating back-room systems for Quicksilver projects such as E-Payroll and E-Travel.

Not surprisingly, homeland security remains a chief priority for CIOs. Systems chiefs said establishing a process for authorizing and certifying the security of their most critical systems is a fundamental goal. But a lack of funding and resources has slowed these efforts, too, the survey found.

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