Almost three-quarters of government IT budgets globally were reported as flat or increasing in 2013, according to a Gartner CIO survey.

Many government CIOs are reporting that their budgets have stabilised or are increasing, despite a continuing drive to lower the cost of IT services, the research firm said yesterday. This places CIOs in a better position to deliver and manage IT services more effectively and efficiently, allowing them to radically restructure their services portfolio and improve the performance of government, Gartner said.

"CIOs in government indicated that reducing overall business costs is now more important than reducing IT costs alone, which will permit government CIOs to accelerate enterprise-scale initiatives. The business and technology priorities of government CIOs are strongly aligned with their peers from all industries globally, with a few small differences," Gartner said.

The Gartner survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012 among 1,959 CIOs and reports the budget plans at the time. The survey included 398 public-sector CIOs from all tiers of government around the globe, Gartner said.

The top three technology priorities for government CIOs in 2013 have all changed since 2012, Gartner said. Business intelligence and analytics moved from fifth to the top spot, followed by legacy modernisation and IT management, it said.

"By placing analytics and business intelligence at the top of the list, government CIOs are addressing government's need to proactively manage programmes and services," Gartner said.

Improving the government IT organisation and workforce also became increasingly important as a priority for government CIOs. It moved to the second biggest priority spot in 2013 from ninth in 2012, shifting the responsibilities of CIOs and IT professionals away from most legacy technology services to under-served areas of business need, Gartner said.

The relatively brighter IT budget outlook in government may be short-lived though when compared to other sectors in the economy, Gartner analysts said. But still, Gartner projected a compound annual growth rate of 1.3% for IT spending in the government sector through the end of 2017.

IT services, software and data centres will likely see increased spending, it said, adding that these increases are offset by reductions in telecom services, internal technology services and devices.