Federal chief information officers are paying more attention to how they consolidate, standardize and manage their technology infrastructure.
The focus on their networks comes partly from the Office of Management and Budget’s IT Line of Business initiative, partly because of the potential for cost savings.
IT infrastructure jumped to the second highest priority on the list of priorities detailed Tuesday in the 19th annual Federal CIO survey released by Grant Thornton and TechAmerica, formerly the Information Technology Association of America and AeA.
“Standardization and consolidation can provide savings improve the efficiency of systems,” says Paul Wohlleben, a partner in Grant Thornton’s federal practice and chairman of the CIO Survey task group. “But you need a lot of management focus to do it right and be successful.”
The survey outlined the six biggest CIO challenges for 2009 as well as nine lessons learned from the last eight years of the Bush administration.
ITAA and Grant Thornton interviewed 53 CIOs from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, which is about seven more than in years past.
The CIOs surveyed say IT security remains their top priority.
Respondents say there are some key facets to cybersecurity, including a broad strategy, daily security operations oversight and a flexible and adaptive program.
Other top priorities include:
Wohlleben says one of the biggest surprises from the survey came from the change to who CIOs report to. Last year, most CIOs said they report to the CFO. But this year, CIOs say they report to the deputy secretary.
“This is a similar trend we are seeing in commercial firms so maybe agencies are moving in that direction as well,” Wohlleben says. “Or maybe last year was a data anomaly.”
The survey also asked several multiple choice questions, such as how do you compare your network to industry “best in class” networks from places such as Google or Amazon or Wal-Mart.
About 70 percent of the respondents say their infrastructure is average or better than those industry standards.
Additionally 66 percent of CIOs say they have strengthened their ability to manage their technology.
The survey also pointed out the biggest barriers, such as conflicting priorities, not enough time to develop strategies and lack of money.