Increasingly, CIOs in government are walking through a revolving door. Based on an annual survey of nearly 2,000 CIOs, the research firm Gartner says the average tenure of a public-sector CIO is 3.4 years, down from the 4.2 reported in 2012. In the private sector, however, CIOs remain in their jobs for an average of 5.7 years, up from 4.7 years in 2012.
There’s no single explanation for the short tenure in government, though no doubt politics plays a role, since some of these roles are held by political appointees. Also, salaries generally are lower than in the private sector.
Government-sector CIOs deal with high levels of bureaucracy and diffused decision-making – and there’s little tolerance for IT project failure, Computerworld points out.
Interestingly enough, Gartner also says government IT budgets are improving. Seventy five percent of respondents to its Gartner Executive Programs 2013 CIO Agenda survey said budgets were flat or increasing for 2013.
“After years of being told to ‘do more with less,’ many government CIOs report that budgets have stabilized or are increasing, placing them in a better position to deliver and manage IT services more effectively and efficiently,” said Gartner Research Director Rick Howard. “These CIOs are now poised to boost the business value of IT by radically restructuring their services portfolio to drive innovation and improve the performance of government.”
That budget breathing room might be short-lived, though. While private-sector business leaders plan to boost investments in e-commerce, mobile, cloud, social and other major technology categories, Gartner projects a modest compound annual growth rate of 1.3 percent for IT spending in the government through the end of 2017. Meanwhile, government costs for IT services, software and data centers are expected to increase, offset by reductions in internal technology services, devices and telecom services.