Public-sector CIOs head to the exits
However, private-sector CIOs may be spending more time at one job, survey finds
Computerworld - At a time of government cutbacks, the tenures of public-sector CIOs are growing increasingly shorter than those of their private-sector counterparts, a new Gartner survey finds.
In 2012, the average length of time a local, state or federal CIO in the U.S. and Canada stayed in his post was 4.2 years, the same as 2011. But in 2013 that figure declined to 3.4 years.
In contrast, the average tenure for private-sector CIOs in the U.S. and Canada was five years in 2011, 4.7 years in 2012 and 5.7 years this year.
Gartner's data is based on its annual survey of nearly 2,000 CIOs from all over the world, and from all industries. The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of last year.
There is no single explanation for the shrinking tenure of public-sector CIOs. The recent election may have played a role, but the federal sequester, salary freezes and public-sector bankruptcies may be responsible as well. Another contributing factor may be that CIOs who put off retirement during the economic downturn are now choosing to leave their jobs.
Whatever the reasons, Gartner analyst Rick Howard said, "government CIO tenure is shrinking at a time when dependence on information and data in government is increasing."
Carlos Ramos, CIO of the California state government, said he recently saw data indicating that the average tenure of state CIOs was 2.8 years. He said there could be several reasons explaining why it's so short.
In some cases, a state CIO is appointed at the will of an elected official. Ramos himself, for example, was appointed by California's governor in 2011.
Another reason: The salaries of public-sector CIOs, are significantly lower than those of their private-sector counterparts. "Public-sector CIOs often leverage their credentials to go off into the private sector to make more money," said Ramos.
Moreover, public-sector CIOs must deal with diffuse decision-making and bureaucratic processes that can be trying, and there is also "little tolerance for failure of an IT initiative in the public sector," said Ramos.
Bill Schrier, who served as CTO of the Seattle city government for nearly nine years and now has program management responsibilities with the office of Washington state's CIO, said the public nature of the job and the constant exposure to media scrutiny can take a toll on some people.
Organizational issues can also be stressful issue for public-sector CIOs. Many large government entities don't have consolidated IT organizations, and instead have multiple IT shops which each have their own directors and CIOs. "This makes it really hard for the central CIO to succeed because he/she is continually herding cats to get anything done," said Schrier.
But he said tenure may be more stable on the local level. When Seattle changed mayors, Schrier was retained. Most cities and counties are not run by elected officials, but rather by professional city or county managers. Those managers often have tenures of a decade or more, so changes in IT management aren't likely to happen as frequently as they do at, say, the state level, he said.
Brenda Decker, the CIO of the Nebraska state government and president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said government CIOs don't take these jobs for the money, benefits or recognition. "People that take government CIO jobs do it because they have a desire to serve the public and their state," she said.
And with that mindset, they may also take that job "with a predetermined period of time that they are planning to make the commitment to the state," she said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Accelerating Network Convergence in Virtualized and Cloud Data Centers
- Adopting a converged networking strategy enables organizations to traffic server and storage I/O workloads on consolidated data throughput channels. Intelligent software helps optimize...
- Omnichannel: From Buzzword to Strategy
- Customers demand a seamless experience across channels, especially mobile. Read this whitepaper for a research-based framework for using omnichannel for higher customer engagement.
- How 10GbE Network is the Backbone of the Virtual Data Center
- The shift to a virtual data center has put tremendous strain on legacy networks; driving the need for more speed, lower latency, more...
- 10GbE in the Data Center
- Improvements in 10GbE technology, lower pricing, and improved performance make 10GbE for the mid-market a viable and cost-effective strategy. This white paper discusses... All Government IT White Papers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- All Government IT Webcasts