Government CIOs warm to public cloud

Faced with relentless pressure to reduce costs and improve the performance of government agencies, CIOs must choose between maintaining current operations and transforming government services with fully digitalized business models, according to Gartner.
“There remains an acute need to reduce the overall cost of providing government services while remaining responsive to citizen expectations,” said Rick Howard, research director at Gartner. “CIOs will need to make the case to invest in digital capabilities by recapitalizing stressed IT budgets and optimizing technology portfolios to provide more stable operations at a lower cost.”
Gartner's 2014 predictions for government highlight the logical consequences and impacts that flow from the adoption of cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and accessibility to new sources of information.
By 2017, public cloud offerings will grow to account for more than 25% of government business services in domains other than national defense and security.
Governments will increasingly favor cloud computing over long-running in-house IT deployments to contain costs and increase predictability. Nevertheless, the heightened sensitivities of many governments, particularly in Europe, will act as the limiting factor on the speed of take up as new, more stringent policies, and possibly legislation on cloud adoption, are developed and implemented.
It's essential for CIOs to recognize that they have a proactive role in ensuring that public confidence in government data handling is maintained by ensuring that data protection policies, contractual arrangements and practices are sound and aligned.
By 2017, as many as 35% of government shared-service organizations will be managed by private sector companies.
As private sector sourcing options become more attractive for governments due to cost and service-level advantages, government agencies will increasingly find themselves paying a premium for IT services unless they become more adept in their contract and vendor management abilities. Public-private partnership arrangements have started with infrastructure as a service and will eventually move to integration and software as a service.
CIOs and shared-service executives must seek to preserve the relevancy of their service by maintaining or enhancing investment in the enterprise's skills and service offerings, developing multi-sourcing capabilities and regularly evaluating their sourcing decisions.
By 2017, more than 60% of government open data programs that do not effectively use open data internally will be downscaled or discontinued.
Externally focused government open data programs have sparked some interesting application development and transparency initiatives, but have not delivered sustainable value for government itself in terms of improved business performance or outcome management. Open data is considered a nice-to-have activity or a compliance exercise that is often delegated to a specific role (such as chief data officer), but has yet to become an essential element of routine business processes. Most open data programs are narrowly approached as an end in itself rather than a means to an end, with benefits that are too indirect or intangible for the agencies that own and publish their business data.
CIOs need to take ownership of the full spectrum use of open data, helping their agencies identify useful internal applications that deliver measurable value, as well as promoting partnerships with other public-sector and non-governmental organizations that are also active on open data initiatives.
By 2016, at least 25% of government software development positions will be eliminated to fund the hiring of business intelligence and data analysts.
While the conversion to private and public cloud is growing more slowly in government than in the private sector, the need for internal custom software development is being eradicated. Information availability is exploding to make data analysis the priority skill. Without analysts and business intelligence, the tidal wave of big data will lead to overload rather than progress.
CIOs and their staff can use the productivity made possible by cloud and business intelligence to fund the transitional work required to make the new capabilities operational. They must prepare and sell the business cases required for this progress.