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Government IT leaders give cybersecurity high priority

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Government information technology executives increasingly are focused on cybersecurity preparedness but they are having trouble recruiting IT talent, according to surveys released by Alexandria-based Grant Thornton Public Sector.

Two Grant Thornton annual surveys — one focused on state chief information officers (CIOs) and the other on federal CIOs —reveal similar concerns, including:

• Cybersecurity preparedness is a high priority at the state and federal level.  In federal government, cyberattacks and threats are increasing, Cybersecurity spending also is rising, but it is not keeping pace with the threats. Cyberattacks also are increasing at the state level. Seventy-one of CIOs surveyed have developed cybersecurity disruption response plans, up from 52 percent last year.

• Workforce recruitment,  development and retention continues to be a struggle, as government agencies compete with the private sector for talent. State and federal CIOs want to attract younger, tech-savvy workers but say they need to address less-attractive compensation packages, bureaucratic rules and other onerous requirements of the hiring process.

• CIOs consider data governance and management to be a strategic focus. At the federal level, 86 percent of agencies surveyed have appointed a chief data officer (CDO). However, only one-third of states have created a CDO position, with another 20 percent considering it.

"Cybersecurity is clearly top-of-mind for state CIOs, and, as a result, they are becoming increasingly attentive to protecting essential state IT services,” Graeme Finley, managing director in Grant Thornton’s State and Local Public Sector practice, said in a statement. “In fact, nearly 20 percent more state CIOs have a cyber response plan in place this year compared with last."

Grant Thornton published its 26th annual federal CIO survey in partnership with the Professional Services Council. The survey includes responses from 23 federal agencies and is based on interviews with 41 IT officials.

Grant Thornton’s seventh annual state CIO survey was published jointly with the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and CompTIA. The survey includes  perspectives from the CIOs of nearly every state and U.S. territory.

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