IT Trends in Local Government:
A National Survey of Local Decision Makers
Software as a Service helps local governments improve efficiency and transparency, while cyber attacks make security a top priority.
CivicPulse Insights — September 29, 2021
Information technology (IT) is playing a larger role in local government operations and service delivery. IT initiatives are opportunities for local governments to employ new and cutting-edge tools to serve constituents more efficiently and effectively. In July 2021, CivicPulse surveyed a national sample of 584 local government officials about their needs and priorities to better understand their decisions to adopt different IT solutions. Several follow-up interviews were conducted to provide additional context for survey results. The key takeaways are:
IT has grown in importance in recent years, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 79% of local leaders said that COVID-19 had increased the importance of IT. The overwhelming majority (90%) of local government officials also expected the importance of IT initiatives to increase over the next few years.
Growing prioritization of IT is reflected in most local government budgets. 65% of large (>75k) and 63% of medium-sized (10-75k) local governments expect to increase their IT spending in 2022, while 64% of small local governments (<10k) expect their spending to remain the same.
Cybersecurity is the most common strategic priority across local governments. High-profile ransomware attacks on cities like Atlanta and Baltimore have elevated concerns across the country. 60% of local leaders mention security as a strategic IT priority, even higher than infrastructure modernization (50%) and citizen experience (48%).
Local governments of all sizes are increasingly turning toward cloud-based third-party software to meet their needs. Our survey indicates that 88% of large and 72% of medium-sized local governments have adopted at least one new cloud-based SaaS in the last three years. 46% of the smallest local governments did so as well.
Cloud-based solutions force officials to weigh potential trade-offs between efficiency and cybersecurity. Our follow-up interviews revealed that, while local government officials recognize the benefits of moving toward cloud-based SaaS, some have opted to keep their software in-house for the time being due to growing concerns over cybersecurity.