Despite a continuing drive to lower the cost of IT services, about 75% of government IT budgets globally were reported as flat or increasing in 2013, said Gartner Tuesday when releasing findings of the Gartner Executive Programs 2013 CIO Agenda survey.
These findings are in contrast to the private sector, which is significant as management practices, financial indicators, business metrics and the adoption of IT in government generally lag behind those of the private sector, according to the advisory firm.
"After years of being told to "do more with less," many government CIOs report that budgets have stabilized or are increasing, placing them in a better position to deliver and manage IT services more effectively and efficiently," said Gartner research director Rick Howard. "These CIOs are now poised to boost the business value of IT by radically restructuring their services portfolio to drive innovation and improve the performance of government."
Gartner's latest annual survey of 1,959 CIOs worldwide from all industries was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012 and represents CIO budget plans reported at that time, said the firm in a statement.
When compared to other sectors, the relatively brighter IT budget outlook in government may be short-lived, Gartner noted, adding that Gartner's CEO and Senior Executive Survey 2013 indicates that private-sector business leaders are poised to boost investments in e-commerce, mobile, cloud, social and other major technologies.
Gartner projects a modest CAGR of 1.3% for IT spending in the government and education sectors through to the end of 2017, with increased spending for IT services, software and data centers. These increases are offset by reductions in internal technology services, devices and telecom services, Gartner added.
CIOs in government also indicates that reducing overall business costs is now more important than reducing IT costs alone, which will permit government CIOs to accelerate enterprise-scale initiatives, Gartner said.
Government CIOs' priorities
The business and technology priorities of government CIOs are strongly aligned with their peers from all industries globally, with a few small differences, said Gartner.
The top three technology priorities in 2013 have all changed since 2012, with business intelligence and analytics moving from number 5 to the top spot, followed by legacy modernization and IT management, according to the analyst company.
By placing analytics and business intelligence at the top of the list, government CIOs are addressing government's need to proactively manage programs and services, Gartner noted.
As part of the CIO agenda survey, Gartner also investigated and ranked strategic priorities. Improving the government IT organization and workforce has moved to the number 2 spot in 2013 from number 9 in 2012, which shifts the responsibilities of CIOs and IT professionals away from most legacy technology services to underserved areas of business need.
"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 Howard.
The CIO Agenda Survey also indicates that 76% of government CIOs have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT.