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POV

Assessing IT in the Public Sector

by ISG

By Don Flores, Partner & Director, State and Local Government Services, TPI

Last month, I attended the 40th annual conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, which represents state CIOs and IT executives and managers from the states, territories, and the District of Columbia. At different times during the conference, we were asked to participate in interactive multiple-choice poll, and the results were very interesting. On the first day, 67% of the state IT officials in the audience predicted 2010 would bring a 5% reduction in their funding (only 6% said it would be up and 13% said it would be the same). And when the group was asked what should be the top priority for state CIOs next year, “seeking efficiencies and cost control” won in a landslide.

This is not an easy time to be a state or local government IT leader. At a time when public funds are in the tank due to the economic downturn, demand has never been greater for services, especially in highly complex areas such as disaster recovery, data security and e-government. The pressure is easy to see in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where a recent legislative audit of outsourcer Northrop Grumman found repeated outages and costly delays in its handling of the government’s IT systems and has led to calls to cancel the contract.

Smart organizations—whether they’re in the public sector or the private – know that proper governance of outsourcing arrangements must be agreed upon ahead of time and built into every agreement. But crafting a successful sourcing strategy actually begins much earlier than that. TPI has recently kicked off IT assessments with the State of Vermont, State of Washington and City of Houston aimed at identifying opportunities to reduce costs and improve service delivery. Carefully exploring all options is the only way states and municipalities can find the efficiencies their budgets require while still providing the high-quality IT services their citizens demand.