Government IT leaders are heading for the door

Low pay, the federal sequester, press scrutiny and other factors all likely contribute to a growing turnover rate among government IT leaders.

At a time of government cutbacks, the tenures of public-sector CIOs are getting increasingly shorter than those of their private-sector counterparts.

Gartner's latest annual worldwide survey of some 2,000 CIOs in all sectors of the economy, including government, found that local, state or federal CIOs in the U.S. and Canada stay in their posts an average of 3.4 years. Gartner's 2012 survey found that such CIOs kept their jobs for 4.2 years, the same average tenure as the 2011 survey found.

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 found.

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of last year.

Analysts and government CIOs say there is no single explanation for the shrinking tenure of public-sector tech execs.

Recent elections, the federal sequester, salary freezes and public-sector bankruptcies may have played roles in the trend. Also, they noted, CIOs who put off retirement during the economic downturn may now be choosing to leave their jobs.

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