ITAA: CIOs focus on PMA

Federal chief information officers are digging deep into their agencies' pockets for information technology consolidation projects to increase efficiency and lower costs, according to the latest annual CIO survey from the Information Technology Association of America.

Another priority in 2004 was implementing the President's Management Agenda, within the confines of increased scrutiny of government spending, the survey found. However, CIOs cited shortage of time as one of the main barriers to increased effectiveness.

"Daily crises and the attention I have to put on managing the operation keep me from performing the strategic goal to align IT from a cost effective standpoint," said Paul Wohlleben, chairman of the CIO Survey Task Group, describing the typical view of a federal CIO.

But oversight groups on Capitol Hill believe that CIOs do not have full control over IT budgets and should work on reigning in control under the new administration.

The report, sponsored by ITAA and supported by Grant Thornton's Global Public Sector Group, involved interviews with 44 CIOs and information resource managers in 39 organizations and included 29 from civilian agencies, nine from defense agencies and six from agencies with oversight responsibility. The officials were interviewed last year between August and December, before the election, for the most part. Interviews centered around key progress, major priorities moving forward and quantitative data on CIO's heft within their respective agencies.

Other priorities moving forward include studying hiring needs and thinking more holistically about security. In the future, CIOs want to bolster IT security by taking an enterprise risk management perspective, better integrating physical and IT security and appointing chief information security officers. Not surprisingly, human capital will also be a challenge. "We don't believe they have formulated the silver bullet solution that's going to solve that problem," said Wohlleben, a partner with Grant Thornton's Global Public Sector and former federal CIO.

There was a significant difference in e-government conversations this year. The 24 e-government initiatives were not among the top priorities this year, now that they are part of the basic operation. Now, CIOs are focused on implementing the more recent governmentwide lines of business effort, which Office of Management and Budget officials began last March.

About 89 percent of CIOs report directly to their agency heads or deputy agency heads, in line with the Clinger-Cohen Act. Almost all the CIO organizations reported having a robust capital planning and investment control process and many said IT consolidation has resulted in cost savings and improved security. "Through that simplification process, you make it easier to defend and secure," Wohlleben said.

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