The National Governor’s Association’s new "Delivering Results" initiative will open doors to the strategic importance of information technology, offering government CIOs an opportunity to get a seat at the policymaking table.
On 13 July 2014, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, new chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), announced “Delivering Results,” an NGA initiative aimed at improving the management and productivity of state governments.
This NGA initiative (see http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/2014/1402-Moodys-AmericaWorks_35f.pdf ) pushes governors and their staff to address the often-overlooked strategic value of IT. This value comes from the vast majority of government line and staff budgets that can use digital information to reorganize work more productively, not from the relatively small and sometimes shrinking budgets required to run IT per se.
While IT has dramatically improved year after year, helping to reconfigure many businesses, its influence has been relatively slow in reaching governments, including U. S. state governments. While some "turn of the century" governors provided visible leadership for e-government, leaders since then have focused more on economic tough times and cutting budgets for almost everything, including IT.
But times are changing. Given an aging population and the globalization of entertainment, banking, education and other services, more government leaders realize that IT-enabled productivity is increasingly essential. They recognize the need for technology, analytics and a tech-savvy workforce to deliver results that matter to citizens. A younger generation of constituents and leaders, both conservative and liberal, see that IT is critical not only for government overall, but to successfully achieve their political agendas and secure their legacies.
Government CIOs and IT leaders:
Proactively prepare to analyze and support IT’s strategic impacts, not just IT per se. For the resources directly allocated for IT and IT staff, show that you are appropriately near the best practice leading edge — neither too far behind (where efficiency suffers), nor too far ahead (where the risks are too great). Also, show how your government’s major citizen-facing services stack up when compared to IT-enabled best practice: How close (measured by metrics and judgment calls) are you to the leading edge with IT-enabled services such as public safety, education, healthcare, tax collection and customer service?
Take advantage of the openings provided by the NGA’s “Delivering Results” initiative. The NGA will be looking, for example, for cases of improved staff recruitment and retention, IT-enabled lean processes, and strategic uses of big data and analysis in government. Contribute what you can to their analysis and learn from collaborating with the government “early movers” that the NGA will inevitably assemble. Take advantage of whatever political cover and energy the NGA initiative can provide for you and your government.
Within your own jurisdiction, strengthen alliances with those officials willing and able to lead on the big issues. To help capture the strategic value of IT, you will need to be “at the table” when major initiatives are decided. These opportunities are likely to arise around crises, or within the budget process or special initiatives to improve productivity/performance management, customer service/citizen involvement, or economic development. CIOs should develop their access to other leaders by providing valued services and influential insight on the strategic impacts of IT.