AFFIRM details top CIO challenges, critical technologies

AFFIRM details top CIO challenges, critical technologies

Federal CIOs are struggling to align IT and agency mission goals, and to use technology to improve customer service.

Those are two of the 25 biggest challenges CIOs face, according to the annual Federal CIO Survey released today by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

AFFIRM surveyed 4,000 senior IT managers, 124 of whom responded by e-mail—the most ever, said Kirk Webber, co-chairman of the association’s Emerging Issues working group and an IT policy and planning manager for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

The top challenges for CIOs remained mostly the same as last year. The only new issues to enter the top 10 were:

  • Using IT to improve services to citizens

  • Managing or replacing legacy systems

  • Developing agencywide IT accountability.


Funding struggles, enterprise architecture implementation, and hiring and retaining IT workers ranked among the top five challenges.

CIOs also said security infrastructure, Internet, Intranet and Web applications, and wireless technologies were the most critical applications. IT managers have ranked security as the most critical technology for the past five years.

Data warehousing, knowledge management and e-mail made the list as the top critical technologies.

Storage and storage networks made the biggest jump in the survey, coming in at nine after being ranked 27 last year. Biometrics, smart cards, frequency identification and search optimization made the list for the first time.

AFFIRM also asked CIOs and federal IT managers five additional questions about the impact of the presidential election, the success of e-government projects, the workforce skills gap, the impact of homeland security on IT budgets and IT infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Webber said one of the most surprising results was that 84 percent of those surveyed said that the 25 Quicksilver projects would be successful or somewhat successful. This is up from 56 percent in 2002.

“This is a significant shift in the IT community over the years,” Webber said.

Program management and project and budget planning remain the largest skill gaps among IT workers, the survey said. CIOs also said their IT infrastructure is less secure this year than last, albeit only by two percentage points, while 6 percent of the respondents said their networks were more vulnerable, up from 2 percent the previous year.

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