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For the past twenty years, several trends have converged to strongly influence the workforce dynamics of business and government. First, nearly every aspect of work has been affected by the introduction of information technology (IT) into our society, economy, and workplaces. Second, relentless demands for efficiency, and continuous improvements in information technologies have combined to reshape both business models and modes of operation, as well as relationships with customers and citizens. As one consequence, government increasingly relies on information technologies to deliver all kinds of programs and services. At the same time, powerful demographic trends associated with the aging of the baby boom generation have created serious concerns about recruitment, retention, and succession planning for the government IT workforce. Over the last ten years, both federal and state governments have become concerned about the effects of losing institutional knowledge and critical skill sets to retirement. These concerns are exacerbated by the burgeoning growth of IT use in the private sector which poses strong competition for skilled IT professionals.

IT workforce issues have been a concern in New York State since the 1980s and were designated high priority areas in the 2004 and 2005 New York State Enterprise Information Technology Strategic Plans and statement of Enterprise Architecture Principles. Since 2003, the New York State CIO Council, Office of the CIO, the Office for Technology (OFT), and oversight agencies such as the Division of the Budget and Department of Civil Service have been working to develop a unified IT strategic plan that includes workforce needs. The CIO Council, made up of senior executives from more than 70 state agencies, authorities, and other organizations is responsible for initiation and oversight of IT policies and strategies for the State. The Council strives to achieve four overarching goals geared toward state government as an enterprise. The goals include optimizing technology investments and value through improved coordination of enterprise IT procurements; fostering architecture methodologies, standardization frameworks, and investments toward better information sharing and security; achieving integrated government through coordination, collaboration and recognizing information as a public asset; and ensuring that a skilled technology workforce is available, trained, and effectively employed.

The CIO Council carries out its work through seven standing committees on leadership, fiscal/procurement topics, security, strategic planning, technology, intergovernmental communications, and human resources. Each committee develops initiatives that translate high-level goals into operational improvements. For the Human Resources (HR) Committee, one key initiative is an effort to document current employee proficiency in IT-related skill sets, identify the training needs of employees, and assess the future direction of IT deployment in NYS. With the assistance of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany/SUNY, and endorsement and financial support from the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, this initiative took the form of a statewide IT skills assessment. The assessment was also supported by the Public Employees Federation (PEF) and the Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA), the two major unions that represent IT employees.