Legislative Information Technology Priorities 2017

8/15/2017

Summary

Cybersecurity is top of mind for information technology professionals everywhere, and combating security threats continues to grow in importance for legislative technology managers, according to the results of a July 2017 NCSL survey of key information technology CIOs and managers in state legislatures.

Ninety-four percent of respondents indicated that combating security threats and taking additional security measures would be either the “most important” or an “important” priority for the next one to three years. In addition, more than half of respondents (55 percent) indicated that keeping up with security threats was “very challenging,” up from about 45 percent in 2016.

Survey Overview

To identify current and anticipated legislative technology projects and priorities, key legislative information technology contacts (CIOs, IT directors or managers) in all 50 states were sent an online survey in July 2017. Thirty-five contacts in 33 states responded and identified the top IT priorities and challenges they will face in the next one to three years. (Respondents included 27 CIOs/managers in central IT offices and six in IT offices that serve only one chamber or office.)

Challenges for Legislative Information Technology Offices

Legislative IT leaders find keeping up with security threats and new technologies, recruiting and retaining skilled IT staff, and limited budgets to be their biggest challenges. 

When asked to identify the issues that are most or least challenging, respondents’ replies were as follows:
 

Challenges for IT Offices

 

Very challenging

Challenging

Not challenging

Total # of responses

 

(Number of responses)

 Limited budgets
 

6

20

7

33

 Finding/retaining skilled IT staff
 

15

13

5

33

 Keeping up with changing/new technologies
 

11

20

2

33

 Keeping up with security threats
 

18

15

10

43*

 Getting support/attention from legislative
 leadership or upper management
 

5

19

14

38*

 

* Respondents could select more than one option.

Legislative Information Technology Priorities


When asked which of several named issues and projects would be considered most important or important in the next few years, respondents ranked their importance in the following order:

  1. Combating security threats, taking increased security measures.
  2. Developing new legislative applications (e.g., bill drafting, bill status, committee systems, etc.).
  3. Developing or supporting tools for online citizen engagement.
  4. Developing or supporting collaboration tools.
  5. Developing or refining systems to enable a paperless environment.
  6. Adapting legislative websites for mobile devices.
  7. Supporting data analysis and visualization tools.
  8. Providing technical management of or support for members’ personal devices.
  9. Developing customized mobile apps for mobile devices.
  10. Moving to email in the cloud (e.g., Office 365, Gmail, etc.).
  11. Moving to an external cloud or hybrid document cloud solutions (e.g., Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.).

 

Budget Issues

For the first time since the end of the Great Recession a significant number of states find themselves facing budget shortfalls, according to NCSL’s State Budget Update: Spring 2017. Legislative information technology managers in some states also are feeling the effects of these budget concerns. When asked which factors have the most impact on the legislature’s IT budget, respondents ranked the following factors (with 1 having the most impact and 8 having the least impact) as follows:

  1. Applications needing technology upgrades.
  2. Licenses.
  3. Statewide budget cuts.
  4. Aging equipment.
  5. Competing with the private sector for staff.
  6. Customer demand for applications.
  7. Customer demand for contemporary devices.
  8. Other.


The survey also asked CIOs and managers to identify the areas in which they would cut back if necessary (with 1 receiving the most responses and 9 receiving the least) :

  1. Cut back on or delay replacement of hardware/equipment.
  2. Renegotiate or change maintenance plans or licensing contracts.
  3. Cut back on out-of-state travel.
  4. Delay new application development/purchase of software.
  5. Cut back on IT training.
  6. Hiring freeze.
  7. Move to cloud/virtual computing alternatives.
  8. Move to open source software.
  9. Other.

 

Conclusion

The challenge for CIOs and IT managers in the next few years is how to continue to manage and enhance traditional operations and applications, while finding or freeing up money and staff time for increasing security threats and new digital initiatives.

Additional Resources