To survive tight budgets, states must collaborate, new NASCIO president says

Improving collaboration between federal and state chief information officers, as well as state and local CIOs, is at the top of the “to-do” list of the newly elected president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

NASCIO will build on efforts to establish collaboration between the federal and state governments initiated by past presidents of the organization, Dugan Petty, Oregon CIO and newly elected NASCIO president for 2011-2012 told an audience in Denver, Oct 3. Petty takes the reins of NASCIO from Kyle Schafer, chief technology officer of West Virginia, who remains on the organization’s executive committee.

The road ahead is going to be tough because of budget constraints all state governments are facing, Petty said during the organization’s State Dinner and Awards Presentation.

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“Even if we get revenues coming back up, it is a sad story about our ability to sustain the current level of government,” Petty said.  “I don’t think my situation in Oregon is a whole lot different from yours,” he told other state CIOs. “We are going to be asked to do a lot more with a lot less,” which requires a transformation, Petty said.

Petty is focusing on three areas to help NASCIO perform its role of supporting state CIOs: collaboration, cloud computing and IT procurement reform.

Petty will build upon the efforts of past presidents Schafer and Stephen Fletcher, CIO of Utah, to establish relationships with federal partners. In the coming year, NASCIO will hold the second annual summit of federal and state CIOs. Several current federal CIOs have come out of NASCIO, and three federal CIOs are now part of the organization.

This positions NASCIO to forge better relationships not only with the Federal CIO Council and agencies but also with federal programs. For instance, NASCIO could help influence areas such as the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-87, which focuses on cost principles for state, local and Indian Tribal governments, or the National Information Exchange Model for information sharing.

Collaboration between the states is another area of focus. Montana CIO Dick Clark has been a champion in this area, Petty said, adding that the states are finally making progress. The question is how states can deliver value to their citizens using the resources of fellow jurisdictions and regional states, he noted.

Cross-boundary collaboration between state and local entities also is essential. Petty noted that, according to an IDC survey mentioned in a session earlier in the day, 80 percent of citizens surveyed don’t distinguish between state and local government. It is all government to them. “We are all in this together,” he said, noting that in Oregon some counties are experiencing severe problems and they can’t continue to operate like they have in the past.

“We have to figure out new and more effective ways to work collaboratively to get the job done,” Petty said. Petty has asked Michigan CIO David Behen to head an initiative to bring together state, county and city CIOs to share best practices and foster cross-boundary collaboration.

Petty said that state CIOs have to continue efforts to understand how to use and properly implement cloud computing, an on-demand computing model that allows users to pay for only the resources and services they use.

The third goal is to take on IT procurement reform. The time has come to work with strategic partners on best practices and build an IT procurement plan for the future, he said.

We can’t afford to have one more project go south because we put a contract under it that didn’t make sense,” Petty said. 

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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