Security is top concern of CIOs

The main issue on the minds of federal chief information officers in 2000 was information assurance and security, according to a new survey from the Information Technology Association of America. The association released its 11th Annual Survey of Federal CIOs Tuesday. The survey includes interviews with 37 executives. Agencies now see security as a management issue, said Paul Wohlleben, chair of the CIO survey task group. CIOs believe the government will have to form partnerships with private industry to address security needs as the government's aging workforce retires, the survey said. Across-the-board, outsourcing will become increasingly common as agencies continue to put in place new technology while experienced managers retire, Wohlleben said. But a retiring industry workforce also poses a challenge to officials looking to secure experienced contractors. Over the long term, the number one issue for CIOs is the move towards electronic government, the survey found. While many CIOs are still looking at the future of e-government in broad, conceptual terms, they feel pressure to make government more citizen-centered, Wohlleben said. Most CIOs think e-government is still in a start-up phase, and feel e-gov efforts have been driven more by agency innovation than by congressional mandates, such as the Government Paperwork Elimination Act. Smaller, Web-based initiatives seem to be catching the attention of agency technology heads more than anything else, the survey found. Inadequate infrastructure is the biggest barrier to achieving the same successes many states and localities have had with e-government, the survey said. CIOs agree that top-to-bottom technology overhauls are needed at many agencies, but believe that politicians are hesitant to fund system-wide projects. Therefore, CIOs are interested in outsourcing such projects, Wohlleben said. The survey stressed the importance of giving CIOs key roles in policy-making. Last year many surveyed officials considered it unnecessary to have a federal CIO act as a Cabinet level adviser, but this year's responses showed that most technology chiefs favor such a move. It takes a "superhuman" effort to innovate without having a key IT expert who has access to top decision makers, said Wohlleben. ITAA officials expressed their enthusiasm that the appointment of a federal CIO now appears likely.
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