"It's a philosophical debate as to whether the role of state government is to be the direct provider of all these services," he says.
"The CIOs clearly see their role in the future as a broker of a portfolio of services," he adds. "They see their model as changing -- 10 years ago they were the exclusive provider of all these services."
Now, CIOs are evaluating whether a wide range of applications would be better running through state facilities or from an outside provider. It's the same conversation IT shops were having a few years ago with email, Robinson explains.
"Ten years ago I would have been a heretic if I'd said to CIOs you need to get rid of email, because that was a mission-critical service they suppled to all the agencies," he says.
CIO concerns beyond security and cloud
While security and the cloud headlined the CIOs' ranking of their priorities for 2016, it's a crowded field. Respondents to NASCIO's survey also indicated their plans to focus on consolidating and optimizing services and operations, business intelligence and analytics, modernizing legacy IT, and establishing an "enterprise vision and roadmap for IT."
Other CIO priorities included efforts to cut or contain costs, recruit and retain top IT talent, improve the development and delivery of software, and advance their plans for disaster recovery and business continuity.
In many of those areas, CIOs could benefit from stronger support from key personnel in the executive branch and the legislature, Robinson says, stressing the importance of tech leaders winning the buy-in of top brass in the budget and procurement processes.
At an organizational level, states could bolster their IT operations with a more holistic governance model, Robinson suggests, citing security as perhaps the most critical area that could improve from a more consolidated operating structure.
"In too many states the security posture is decentralized. There's some general guidance, but there's not strong oversight and compliance," he says. "They've got a speed limit, but no one's running the radar gun."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.