Call it Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO), technology leaders for cities and towns hold a great deal of responsibility for establishing the municipality’s technical vision and leading all aspects of its technological development. The CIO/CTO sets the overall direction for technology through strategic planning and evaluation. They provide leadership, planning oversight and management for all areas of information technology (IT) strategy, development, and implementation. As leaders, they show a demonstrated ability to influence decisions and decision makers in a professional manner. These public sector CIO drives change with transformative technology.
The Civic CIO/CTO responsibilities do not stop there.
They are responsible for improving and expanding how the city leverages technology to build higher quality city services, improve work flow management and efficiency, provide easier public access to information and assistance, and develop innovative solutions to challenging local issues. As a member of the executive leadership team, the CIO/CTO helps make decisions based on the highest degree of technical complexity and through understanding of the far-reaching implications across IT of the municipality.
The job requires the interaction with a wide variety of diverse individuals, including elected officials, City department directors and management, department of IT management and staff, and the public. They often collaborate regularly with the mayor’s office, department directors, other city employees, and local communities while engaging in strategic planning.
Today’s city CIOs must know about relevant technologies, run experiments, define technology standards for the city, and manage relationships with sources of insight and innovation. This is necessary to oversee the success of daily activities of the IT department, which could compromise upwards of 30-40 staff members depending on the city’s size. Oversight includes voice and data communications, network administration, administrative systems, financial technology, training, user support and IT security systems.
As more municipalities investigate Smart City initiatives, the role of city CTO is becoming more strategic and important to the city’s ability to recast its relationship with city departments, business partners, city leaders, residents, and local businesses. Today’s municipal IT departments are responsible for innovating new business practices through the delivery of technology services, which call for IT leaders who are highly motivated, able to make data-driven decisions, and have strong management and interpersonal skills.
So what exactly are the responsibilities and duties?
Some are specific and measurable while others are more general. Public sector experience is preferred but not required as is management experience in planning, evaluating, directing information processing organizations, and management of online communication networks. Successful public sector CIOs have experience working in large-scale data projects and/or design and implementation of custom application solutions. As the role of civic CIO/CTO is different from CIOs in private sector, many city technology leaders actively participate in the National Association of CIOs (NASCIO) community to share with and seek best practices from other state IT professionals.
The ideal candidate should be able to build successful partnerships both within IT, across departmental lines and with outside agencies and business leaders. Continuous improvement, creativity, and innovation are often valued, as is a drive for excellent customer service.
What might a Civic CIO/CTO job description look like?
Primary responsibilities and duties include, but are not limited to:
- Lead the technology direction for the city; responsible for the management and successful completion of strategic technology projects and initiatives (technology, projects that directly serve city residents, and have internal city government impact)
- Provide technology vision – enables innovation and understands IT trends that can create business value and act as an internal consultant, providing top-level guidance on complex technical projects and initiatives
- Oversee development of enterprise standards and technology architecture and evaluation, transfer programs, and the IT governance process
- Leverage and embrace sustainable technology solutions for projects and initiatives to encourage and ease adoption across departments
- Identify trends across the city, create consensus support on direction, and deploy unified solutions using industry best practices
- Apply advanced technology knowledge and skills in accessing technical requirements and develops solutions to problems of unusual complexity
- Serve as the key technology stakeholder for the expansion and improvement of public safety and resiliency
- Work closely with business leadership teams to influence technical and architectural aspects of enterprise-wide business decisions and lead annual planning processes to coordinate city-wide IT priorities
- Participate in defining objectives, policies and procedures, and incentives that result in integration, implementation, and execution of shared city services
- Assume responsibility for public-facing, high visibility functions within the department
Education and Qualifications
Civic CIOs graduated from an accredited college with a Bachelor’s degree in an area related to M.I.S., computer science, information technology, management/administration, or public administration. A minimum of 10 years professional technology related experience, and five years in management/supervisory role responsible for large-scale operations, systems development, and technology policy. Considerable progressively responsible experience with the administration, coordination, and operation of computerized information management systems, management multiple concurrent projects, and leading a professional IT group is required. Project management of software implementation is a plus, and an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience may be considered. A Master’s Degree and/or other relevant degrees/certifications strongly preferred. In summary, CIO candidates will possess advanced oral and written communication, strong customer service skills, managerial problem solving and analytical skills and demonstrated experience.