GAO Finds Public, Private Sectors Face Different IT Challenges

Private sector CIOs are more concerned with making IT contribute to the bottom line, while CIOs in the public sector struggle with organizational issues and limited resources, surveys say.

The responsibilities of government CIOs largely mirror those of their private sector counterparts, but the key challenges faced by the two groups of CIOs often differ, according to a study released today by the Government Accountability Office.

In an ongoing effort to shed light on the federal governments long-standing IT problems, the GAO met with the CIOs of 20 prominent private sector organizations, including IBM, Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co. and PepsiCo.

The three-part goal of the initiative was to identify the challenges faced by enterprise CIOs, find out how they govern their IT assets, and compare their responsibilities with those of their public sector counterparts. Last year the GAO surveyed CIOs at federal agencies regarding their duties and challenges.

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The responsibilities of private sector CIOs resemble those of government CIOs, except in the areas of strategic planning, enterprise architecture, and collection, dissemination and disclosure of information.

These task areas tend to fall to the CIOs in government, while corporate CIOs generally can leave them to others.

The work of the two groups of CIOs differs primarily in some of the key challenges that they identified to the GAO. Most of the private sector CIOs cited challenges related to increasing the contribution of IT to the companys bottom line, such as controlling IT costs and increasing IT efficiency.

The greatest challenge cited most often in the private sector was aligning technology with the companys business objectives.

In contrast, government CIOs typically noted the challenges of overcoming organizational barriers and procuring sufficient resources.

The GAO found that four-fifths of the companies surveyed have executive committees with responsibility for governing major IT investments, and nine out of the 20 companies split the responsibility for managing IT investment between the CIO and other executives.

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