If money weren’t an issue, state CIOs would direct more to their workforces. That’s what many of them told us in interviews earlier this year. And if that’s the response from some of the top state-level tech officials, it’s probably a fairly popular view among public CIOs in general.
“We can’t do anything without people,” Delaware CIO Jason Clarke said during a NASCIO panel in May. “Workforce has been the priority.”
Several said they would add numbers. In a recent story on govtech.com, we dug into government tech workforce trends over the past few years. 2021 was the first year since 2014 in which this overall segment of the workforce declined in most states. CIOs are feeling the effects. A related piece of data isn’t helping government IT recruitment efforts: While the national median salary has steadily increased, actual salaries for government IT staff have not kept pace.
Another line item related to staffing frequently cited by CIOs is investing in their existing talent pool. Leaders now realize that developing current staff to meet ever-changing organizational needs is especially important in technology areas, where legacy skills are often correlated with legacy technology. A more modern company requires new capabilities, and prioritizing professional development can also help foster organizational loyalty.
New York CIO Tony Riddick summed up the sentiment of many of his colleagues in response to the “if money weren’t an issue” question: “Having more people, improving our workforce , ensure that our employees are trained and agile. and that we put them in a position to succeed.
But even if state and local government budgets show surpluses and see a healthy injection of capital due to recent federal spending, government CIOs will never have unlimited resources. With very few exceptions, all are resolutely focused on prudently protecting results and effectively managing their departments while always advancing them towards organizational goals. And they’re clearly doing it to support the people who make it all possible.
Despite the disparity in salaries between the public and private sectors for tech jobs, government work remains stable during times of economic uncertainty. Whether or not we’re on the cusp of a real recession, it’s a good time for a stint in public service, and for those already on the payroll, it’s a good time to stay on place, avoid the increased volatility of the private sector and make a difference. People who choose to do so should be recognized and rewarded for it.
Turning the lens inward, I’m fortunate to work with a talented editorial team at Government technology which has grown significantly as we seek to build on the legacy of this now 35-year-old publication. Over the past few years, we have added several positions, representing an increased investment in editorial coverage of national and local information technology and education.
One area I’m particularly excited about is the capability we’ve added to do data journalism. We can now dig deeper into the numbers behind our reports, providing a more complete picture of the stories we do for our readers. The workforce story I mentioned earlier features six interactive charts based on recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on technology jobs in state and local government, where you can see the trends general as well as state and role specific details directly relevant to you. For example, did you know that there are four states where government IT workers earn more than their private sector counterparts?
Another recent article breaks down the election technology used across the country, revealing that the only state is still working to implement a voter-verified paper trail to back up its electronic direct registration system. Still in the works, an updated look at state CIOs ahead of the fall election: how long they typically stay in their jobs, how often a new governor means a new CIO, and more. Bookmark this page to follow our data reports: govtech.com/biz/data.
And let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to explore. We look forward to hearing from you.