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Leadership Development and Professional Certification for Government IT Executives

Certified Government CIO program

The Application for the 2016 CGCIO™ will be available in Fall 2015.

The program is contingent on sufficient number of qualified candidates.

The CGCIO™ professional development program provides a unique focus on leadership, management and strategy for public sector IT. It enables IT leaders to further develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed at the executive level.

What's at stake?

  • Technology is expensive, complex and ever-changing. CIOs must be savvy decision makers, who can be creative and strategic, to generate the greatest impact from investments in technology. They need to foresee the opportunities and implications of emerging technologies. CIOs need access to best practices and potential solutions from unbiased advisors and experts.
  • Time and money are fixed resources, but human potential is unlimited. Working smarter is the name of the game these days. Leaders especially need a robust venue for learning. CIOs can't achieve innovative breakthroughs by relying on what they already know.
  • CIOs need a complete set of business skills and an executive presence. The role of the IT executive is expanding. CIOs are expected to have adequate knowledge of management topics, though they may never have had training in finance, personnel, negotiations, procurement and the like. They must be persuasive communicators, innovative thinkers, and able to generate collaboration across departments.

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Snapshot of the Program

  • Emphasis is on leadership, strategy and management, not necessarily on technology
  • Over 40 subject matter experts, industry veterans and government officials bring their expertise to the program as presenters, and become part of the participant's professional network.
  • Participation is limited to senior-level IT leaders with at least 4 years of IT management experience, as well as the nomination of the organization's chief executive.
  • Classes are held in Harrisburg at Harrisburg University, two consecutive days per month for 10 months. Given the proximity to Amtrak and other public transportation, it is a convenient location for those in Harrisburg, as well as from outside Central PA.
  • The program is designed to complement a busy executive's priorities. It is an efficient monthly venue for learning, reflection and networking covering a wide range of topics at a high level. While it can be lonely at the top, executives in the cohort discover they are not alone in dealing with complex challenges.

Benefits of the CGCIO™ Program

  • Designates IT professionals with a nationally recognized credential representing the core competencies which are essential qualifications for the role of government CIO

  • Enhances skills and knowledge required by technology professionals to lead at the executive level, by improving abilities in communications, strategy, management and human relations

  • Connects IT leaders to a network outside their immediate work environment, including peers from other industries, experts and engineers from the private sector and IT leaders in other divisions of government

  • Gives executives an educational forum to develop a capstone project--a tangible work-product that is not only a culmination of their learning experience, but is developed in response to a top priority identified by their organization's senior leadership

  • Supports lifelong learning and the means to stay up-to-date on emerging technologies and best practices

Pennsylvania state government spends in excess of $1B annually on information technology (IT). County and municipal governments collectively make similar investments each year. All governments are challenged by decreasing budgets and increasing demands for service. If properly planned and implemented, technology can produce significant benefits through these challenging times.

The role of the IT executive within government is quickly changing and expanding. Just knowing how technology works is no longer sufficient for those responsible for leading IT organizations. Public sector IT executives are expected to have a comprehensive knowledge of areas such as communications, finance, human resources, policy making, management practices and how to effectively connect the technology to the business needs. These expectations combine with the reality that technology continues to evolve rapidly, therefore, requiring a strategic lens. The job of public service IT leader has never been tougher and never more important to the success of government!

Other than 'life-experience,' there are few opportunities for public sector IT leaders to develop this knowledge and executive skillset. The Certified Government CIO (CGCIO™) program specifically addresses the unique challenges of public sector IT executive leadership.

By joining forces with the national Consortium for State and Local Government Technology Leadership Development, the Government Technology Institute (GTI) at Harrisburg University has offered the Certified Government Chief Information Officer (CGCIO&trade) program annually since 2011. The program enables current and aspiring information technology executives working at a senior level in public service to earn a recognized credential, and develop the skills and knowledge to manage the demands of their complex role. The CGCIO&trade credential provides public recognition of executive skill in IT management.

Since 2011, the Government Technology Institute at Harrisburg University has had more than 75 IT executives from state and local government participate in the CGCIO leadership development program. They have provided very positive reviews on the usefulness of the program in broadening their perspectives and skills for navigating the challenges of their executive responsibilities.

Charles Gerhards and Barbara Shelton, co-Directors of the Government Technology Institute at Harrisburg University, lead the program. They bring significant public sector leadership experience to the program as visionaries for the curriculum and in-class facilitators.

CGCIO Affiliations: 

Established in 2008, the Consortium for State and Local Government Technology Leadership Development includes the University of North Carolina School of Government Center for Public Technology, the Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University, and the Public Technology Institute in partnership with Rutgers University. National standards, a professional certification, and a core curriculum have been established. The designation of Certified Government Chief Information Officer™ (CGCIO) is awarded for successful completion of the program. Over 600 public-sector IT leaders have participated in CGCIO program since 2005. In North Carolina, state officials have adopted the program as their IT leadership development program, and leverage it for long term organizational succession planning. The program has been praised by participants and follow-up testimonials support the program's ability to develop individuals' strategic, fiscal and communications leadership skills. Cost savings and increased program performance are among the benefits participants attribute to their experience.

Overview of the Program Curriculum
The following framework illustrates the key building blocks of the certified government CIO program.

  • Core IT service functions, such as business processes, applications, and computing-communication platforms represent the basic building blocks of modern enterprises and are shown below as horizontal organizational layers.
  • Interdisciplinary, cross-cutting management practices and governance activities such as communications, planning, management, and security enable and support the horizontal layers (IT service functions) and are emphasized as core curriculum in the CGCIO program.

The curriculum addresses this framework by using examples, case studies, and best practices. The opening module ("Governments in the Digital Age") sets the context by introducing the program and providing an overview of the entire framework using examples of eGovernment initiatives from around the globe. Subsequent modules address the horizontal layers (IT service functions) as well as vertical layers (management disciplines) systematically. The curriculum aims to present technical concepts in a new light, but will emphasize the interrelationship between business, management and leadership skills that transcend technical functions and are vital for successful executives.

Format: In-person sessions, two days per month are led by the program facilitator who maintains topical continuity and builds community within the cohort. Session topics are taught by subject matter experts who use presentations, industry resources, case studies and guest lecturers to present concepts and practical exercises. Peer-learning is emphasized as a valuable method of gaining perspective and lessons learned from others within the cohort. Additionally, independent readings, the applied project and online discussions also support varied instructional approaches for all kinds of learners.

Pass-fail assessment, which is based on attendance, class contributions and the final project, increases participant accountability and learning outcomes. A recertification requirement of 60 CEU credits or 20 hours of a range of appropriate continuing education activities is self-reported annually and promote life-long learning.

Required Qualifications: Candidates must possess the following criteria to be considered for admission to the program: (1) applicants must have a minimum of 6 years in technology, and a minimum of 4 years direct supervision of IT employees/the IT department; (2) candidates currently have a senior-level management/executive responsibility; and (3) applicants work for the public sector in state, county or local government. Candidates are anticipated to be chief information officers, chief technology officers, deputies or senior directors.

Cohort: The class size will be limited to thirty (30) individuals coming from public sector IT at the state, county or local government levels. Candidates will be admitted based on their qualifications, past professional experience and the knowledge, perspectives and expertise they will bring to the cohort. A cohort is designed to provide additional benefit to participants by creating a diverse micro-community of peers with shared experiences and goals, who can advantage one and other through peer learning.

Expectations of Participants: Participants will be expected to complete reading and written work prior to sessions. Compulsory out-of class assignments and readings will be provided through a digital course management system. A capstone project, applying the program's core curriculum to a real-world challenge in the workplace, will be produced and presented by participants. The capstone project may be a strategic plan, business plan or other deliverable yielding tangible benefits to the government technology community. Attendance at a minimum of 90% of the sessions is required.

Make-up work may be required for missed sessions. Awarding of the certification credential will be based on a pass-fail assessment of the program's curricular and project-based requirements.

Application Process: Candidates will demonstrate the support of their senior leadership by submitting a letter of nomination written on their behalf. The application form allows candidates to present their learning goals, past experiences, expertise, and knowledge they will bring to the cohort for consideration. Candidates will be notified in a timely manner as to their acceptance into the CGCIO cohort.

For More Information contact Professional Education office at Harrisburg University at 717.901.5190 or