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Govt CIOs ‘missing the mark’ on digital: Gartner

Jennifer O'Brien | April 28, 2017
95 percent of government organisations operate at "typical" or "trailing" performance levels.


Private sector IT chiefs are spending a greater proportion of their IT budgets on digital initiatives than government CIOs, a global Gartner study has found.

Gartner's '2017 CIO Agenda: A Government Perspective' revealed top-performing organisations in the private and public sectors, on average, spend a greater proportion of their IT budgets on digital initiatives (33 per cent) than government organisations (21 per cent).

Specifically, the survey of 377 government sector CIOs in 38 countries has found that 95 per cent of government organisations operate at "typical" or "trailing" performance levels and remain focused on modernising their technology core, instead of making digital-business-style investments to become "top performers."

The survey includes the views of 2,598 CIOs from 93 countries, representing US$9.4 trillion in revenue or public sector budgets and $292 billion in IT spending, including 377 government CIOs in 38 countries. Government respondents were segmented into national or federal, state or province (regional) and local jurisdictions, to identify trends specific to each tier.

Looking ahead to 2018, top-performing organisations anticipate spending 43 per cent of their IT budgets on digitalisation, compared with 28 per cent for government CIOs.

Gartner said government respondents find themselves in the lower ranks of performance when compared with other industries, with only five per cent categorised as top performers, compared to 22 per cent in the media sector, 15 per cent in service industries and 10 per cent in the banking, retail and communications sectors.

Gartner research vice-president, Rick Howard, said 2016 proved to be a watershed year in which frustration with the status quo of government was widely expressed by citizens at the voting booth and in the streets, accompanied by low levels of confidence and trust about the performance of public institutions.

"This has to be addressed head on," Howard said. "Government CIOs in 2017 have an urgent obligation to look beyond their own organisations and benchmark themselves against top-performing peers within the public sector and from other service industries. They must commit to pursuing actions that result in immediate and measurable improvements that citizens recognise and appreciate."

Howard noted how the top performers in the survey all managed to secure greater budget increases.

Gartner noted government CIOs as a group anticipate a 1.4 per cent average increase in their IT budgets, compared with an average 2.2 per cent increase across all industries. Local government CIOs fare better, averaging 3.5 per cent growth, which is still more than 1 per cent less on average than IT budget growth among top-performing organisations overall (4.6 percent).

"Whatever the financial outlook may be, government CIOs who aspire to join the group of top performers must justify growth in the IT budget by clearly connecting all investments to lowering the business costs of government and improving the performance of government programs," Howard said.


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