Digital acceleration is driving the agendas of State CIOs like never before. Recently, 49 state and territory CIOs provided their perspective on the current state of government IT and what they see on the horizon. Their thoughts, captured in the NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey, reveals a shift in momentum as states transition to new technologies and strategies to improve citizen experiences, mitigate risk, and provide more inclusive broadband access.

A strategic move to the cloud by State CIOs

The pandemic has greatly accelerated modernization strategies for most states (60%) and is pushing them towards a cloud smart approach. A healthy forty-nine percent report their cloud strategy includes migration of legacy applications to the cloud. These two results suggest a growing understanding that successful cloud migration can leverage existing IT but that it also requires a sincere evaluation of which solutions best fit their organization’s needs.

But what are the core reasons for the accelerated move to the cloud, beyond the pandemic and supporting remote workers? The NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey suggests three classic reasons common to IT: increasing scalability/flexibility (78%), enhancing security (57%), and maximizing their investments (43%).

One great piece of news out of the survey is that state CIOs are clearly stepping up to their potential as thought leaders in cloud adoption, with eighty percent reporting their office taking the lead in providing statewide standards/best practices for cloud migrations. Sixty-five percent report doing so for cloud security/access management.

Transitioning to new technologies

Adoption of new technologies has also included significant resources being spent on collaboration solutions, with such platforms now being used by ninety-two percent of the NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey respondents. And eighty-six percent are taking the next step by providing enhanced video, via platforms like Webex for Government, as part of that.

With Webex for Government, workers are gaining secure real-time video conferencing and information sharing to speed response and accuracy in their work, whether at home, in-office or on the road.

Improving citizen experiences through digital services

The ability for citizens to engage government securely and reliably, and vice versa, often became a critical need during the pandemic. This was especially true for healthcare related and other social services.

Ninety-four percent of respondents to the NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey report that citizen demand for digital services accelerated during that time. Critical services were targeted for increased funding, primarily using several new funding mechanisms created as a result of the pandemic itself. State CIOs and agencies are actively working toward always-on, scaleable digital services that provide a better overall experience for citizens.

Mitigating risks

It is clear the majority of State CIOs also saw the need for enhanced security to accompany these new technologies and to secure working from home in general. This includes a hefty sixty-seven percent that report they adopted enhanced encryption and security for work at home devices. The transition to a remote work environment occurred quickly, also increasing cyber threats to state government networks. Yet only twenty percent of NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey respondents report any cyber incidents occurring during this time.

In our conversations with State CIOs and CISOs, we’re seeing zero trust emerging as a guiding framework for all parts of government – from central IT to application owners in agencies to government leaders – to work together in protecting sensitive data and maintaining high availability for critical digital services.

State CIOs: Expanding authority for expanding broadband

According to the NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey, State CIOs are expanding their involvement in broadband issues. Driven by the shift to remote work as well as an increase in digital services for engaging citizens, most now report responsibilities related to the deployment and adoption of broadband in their state.

Broadband efforts across states also include a move towards the use of legislation and state-sanctioned boards to advance the cause. Yet they are running into familiar barriers to deployment such as physical topography (46%), coordinating funding (44%), and affordability (44%).

The future of government IT

The NASCIO 2021 State CIO Survey also asked respondents to scan the horizon and see what technologies will be impacting them over the next two to three years. Based on their experiences, they see AI/ML, automation, and personalization of services as appearing next on their to-do list. And as they prep that list, they’re also considering work from home (85%) and enhanced security (82%) as a permanent part of it.

With cybersecurity squarely in their target, the survey reveals state CIOs will leverage identity/access management solutions (83%), continuous security assessment (69%), and endpoint detection (67%) for the long-term.

Get up to speed on solutions that benefit State CIOs

State CIOs are embracing their role in making government more agile and digital, to meet the elevated expectations and needs of their citizens. We encourage you to join them. Start by taking a deeper look at these resources:




Mike Witzman

Senior Director, Solutions Engineering

US Public Sector