State alliances must have clear cut policy

State agencies interested in collaborating across organizational lines must first establish a firm policy foundation, according to a newly released brief from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

State-to-state and private/public partnerships can cut costs and boost citizen services, the brief states. Although technology exists to make collaboration happen more easily, state CIOs must consider other factors to make the alliances work.

"Technology is an essential enabler between two or more agencies seeking to share data or services," the report states. "However, to begin and sustain a successful collaboration, there must be sound policy in place as well."

State CIOs eyeing cross-boundary collaboration should define the goals of the effort and define success criteria, according to the brief. In addition, information technology managers should weigh business case elements such as business impact, benefits, risk, total cost of ownership and return on investment.

The considerations cited in the NASCIO report include:
  • Executive buy-in and support. Elected officials need to be convinced of a collaboration's potential for success.
  • Governance structure. A governance model that reflects that the leadership of the entities involved is crucial to collaboration.
  • Statutory limits. Some states may have privacy or security requirements regulating such activities as sharing sensitive data.
  • Fiscal responsibility. The collaborating parties need to determine which entity will take the fiscal lead or whether the project represents a shared investment.
  • Community of Practice. The report calls this approach a "natural way to begin the collaborative process."

NASCIO's Cross-Boundary Collaboration Committee produced the brief. The committee is co-chaired by Otto Doll, South Dakota's CIO, and Kristen Miller, Pennsylvania's CIO.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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