Survey: Federal CIOs want to align IT with mission

Editor's note: This story was updated Dec. 19, 2005, at 11:36 a.m. to reflect that Ed Meagher is deputy chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, not CIO as the story had reported.

For the second consecutive year, aligning information technology and organizational mission goals was senior federal IT officials’ No. 1 concern, according to a new survey.

The Association for Federal Information Resources Management, a nonprofit industry group, announced the results yesterday of their 10th Annual Top Ten Challenges Survey, which tracks changes in issues and technologies of interest to federal chief information officers.

AFFIRM e-mailed surveys in November to more than 1,000 federal IT officials and managers. The results reflect the 96 surveys completed.

“The survey does track remarkably with the situations and changes out there,” said Ed Meagher, deputy CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs and president of AFFIRM.

Getting adequate funding came in second place and was joined by building effective relationships with senior agency executives to support IT initiatives, which rose from 11th place in 2004.

“There is clearly an increasing imperative for CIOs to build and sustain effective relationships with their peers” because more agencywide and departmentwide implementations are under way, the report states. CIOs must work with the people who control resources necessary for implementing enterprisewide initiatives, it states.

Hiring and retaining skilled professionals rose to fourth place and stayed a perennial top issue. Fifth place went to formulating and implementing an enterprise architecture.

Using IT to improve service to stakeholders, customers and citizens dropped the most, to seventh place in 2005 from second place in 2004. That could reflect more emphasis on internal agency operations and governmentwide initiatives that pertain mostly to government, the report notes. It could also mean customer-focused technologies adopted earlier are meeting customer, citizen and stakeholder needs, it states.

Consolidating IT infrastructure and outsourcing IT services made their first appearance in the survey this year, debuting at seventh place. Recovering from disasters – both natural and IT – also made it onto the list for the first time at 23rd.

This year’s survey asked two anniversary questions looking back over the past nine years. The first was regarding the greatest challenges federal IT has faced since 1996.

Nearly one-fifth of respondents – 21 percent – said implementing enterprisewide IT capital planning and investment management was the No. 1 issue. That issue was No. 1 in the 1996 survey and has remained a top 10 issue for seven of the previous nine years.

Fourteen percent thought formulating and implementing an enterprise architecture was most important, and 9 percent thought aligning IT and organizational mission goals was most important. Both issues have been in the top 10 all nine years.

Ten percent said preventing unauthorized systems intrusions was the most important, yet the issue was not a top 10 concern this year. “This is somewhat surprising considering the ever-present threat of terrorists and hackers,” the report states.

The survey also asked respondents what technologies have had the most impact on federal IT since 1996. Web and security technologies swept the top spots. Internet, intranet, Web and network applications (26 percent) and infrastructure (18 percent) came in first and second. Security solutions (15 percent) and security infrastructure (14 percent) came in third and fourth.

Federal government response is largely consistent from year to year, said Robert Golas, vice president of business development at Savi Technology’s public-sector unit and co-chairman of AFFIRM’s Emerging Issues Forum. Each year, seven or eight technologies from the previous year make it onto the list, he said.

2005 Votes
2005 Rank
2004 Rank
Aligning IT and organizational mission goals
Obtaining adequate funding for IT programs and projects
Building effective relationships in support of IT initiatives with agency senior executives (agency head, chief financial officer, etc.)
Hiring and retaining skilled professionals
Formulating or implementing an enterprise architecture
Unifying "islands of automation" within lines of business (across agencies)
using IT to improve service to customers/stakeholders/citizens
Consolidating/visualizing the IT infrastructure
Managing or replacing legacy systems
Developing agencywide IT accountability
Source: Association for Federal Information Resources Management


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