Miller: CIOs become trusted players

The Bush administration's budget request is a testament to CIOs' progress

ITAA's annual CIO survey

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Surprise increases in technology budgets governmentwide bode well for federal chief information officers, who are improving the management, security and efficiency of agencies.

Results from the Information Technology Association of America's 15th annual federal CIO survey, "Issues in Leadership," show that members of the CIO community are preparing

to invest heavily in IT consolidation projects that would increase efficiency and reduce costs. Meanwhile, officials continue to emphasize that CIOs should meet the objectives of the President's Management Agenda, particularly in an era of increased scrutiny of government spending.

ITAA officials conducted their survey between August and December 2004 with consulting firm Grant Thornton. They based the survey on interviews with 44 federal CIOs and IT executives.

Respondents consistently identified enterprise standardization and consolidation, project management and IT governance as top priorities. Other priorities included elements of the President's Management Agenda such as IT management, improved e-government and IT security. Many of these concerns were also named as important areas of progress during the past year.

The survey leads to a clear conclusion for the government technology community: Improved efficiency, integration and program management produce more bang for the taxpayers' buck in terms of the investment and the payoff.

The survey results also offer good news for industry. A growing customer base is unwavering in applying technology to obtain savings, embracing the discipline of getting to green grades on the President's Management Agenda score cards and striving to achieve business results. CIOs are also concerned about shortages in skilled program and project managers more than ever before.

As a result, industry leaders are finding agency partners who can guide projects and programs of any scale, deliver results that command cross-agency support and seek widely understood management goals. Industry officials are seeing CIOs who match their ideal government customer.

The proof is in the results. President Bush's proposed budget for fiscal 2006 calls for a 7 percent increase in IT spending. Of the $65.1 billion in requested IT spending, 55 percent will fund investments for defense and homeland security programs. Proposed technology spending by civilian agencies is up 9 percent.

In a day of increasing scrutiny of government spending, such an increase is a testament to CIOs' progress as stewards of federal IT.

CIOs also see their position rising in importance within agencies. About 67 percent of respondents said they report directly to their agency's top official. And 92 percent said they were part of the executive management team for their agency. Such statistics highlight a major cultural shift: Agency officials no longer tolerate but rather tap CIOs to participate in high-level decision-making. This increase in stature is not coincidental.

Miller is president of the Information Technology Association of America.

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