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Chapter 2 - Enterprise IT Governance in Practice: A review of the States

IT governance is a sorting process operating in an environment that generates an ongoing stream of demands and opportunities for IT development and use. The governance process responds to these demands and opportunities by identifying the issues to be resolved and distributing them for decision making at different levels of government: individual agencies, federations of agencies acting in consort, or a central state-level organizational unit. The normal conduct of IT use in government requires this constant stream of decisions and responses to changes in the environment. Each decision or response requires resolving certain issues: Who should decide and act? By what means? According to what rules and criteria? With what resources? How will results be assessed? and so forth. The resulting decisions generate operational actions in the various levels, which in turn produce results that flow back into the environment in the form of services, benefits, policies, resources, or other products of government action. Figure 1 shows three levels of distribution of the issues, roughly reflecting the current governance process in New York and elsewhere. Similar representations could include different levels, but follow the same basic principles.

Figure 1 - Enterprise IT Governance as a Sorting Mechanism

Figure 1 - Enterprise IT Governance as a Sorting Mechanism

This representation is useful in classifying and identifying the locations of the actions and decisions that make up a governance framework. How each organization implements governance, of course, varies to some degree; however, our review of the states supports Sambamurthy and Zmud’s11 claim that there are three prevalent ways of distributing authority over decision making for enterprise IT:
  1. A centralized IT governance structure distributes authority and decision making power solely within a central body.
  2. A decentralized IT governance structure distributes all authority and decision-making power to individual business units (or state agencies).
  3. In a federated IT governance structure, authority over decision-making is distributed between a central body and individual organizational units (or a state-level IT office and state agency CIOs).
This chapter presents a summary of an environmental scan used to inform the recommendations regarding enhanced enterprise IT governance for New York State (See Appendix B for information regarding the approach and methodology used to conduct the environmental scan). A considerable diversity in patterns of authority, practice, and scope can be seen in the implementation of these three general IT governance structures.12 Our summary presents trends in three components of state IT governance: patterns of authority, functions of the state-level IT office, and coordination mechanisms.13 Each component is listed below with illustrative examples from the states. The summary is followed by enterprise IT governance design advice offered by CIOs and IT officials from the eleven states who participated in the interviews for this project.

11Sambamurthy & Zmud, 261-290.
12Sambamurthy & Zmud, 261-290.
13 Helbig, N., Hrdinová, J., and Canestraro, D. (2009). Enterprise IT governance at the state level: An emerging picture. In the Proceedings of the 10th International Digital Government Research Conference (dg.o), p.172-179.