Lack of ITIL and automation remain challenges for public sector

Lack of ITIL and automation remain challenges for public sector

A recent study found many government IT operations still rely on manual processes to manage and support their technology infrastructure.

Published on 6th March 2024

Despite the push toward digital transformation, a 2024 survey on IT trends in the public sector shows many government IT operations still rely on manual processes to manage and support their applications and technology infrastructure.

The top takeaways from the survey show:

Unsurprisingly, the top service management challenges include staffing constraints (43 percent), budget constraints (37 percent), aging infrastructure or systems (31 percent), lack of automation (28 percent) and maintaining cybersecurity standards (25 percent).


While the number of full-time IT staff members varied among survey respondents, the results show that local governments often rely on lean IT teams. More than half (56 percent) of city respondents and 41 percent of county respondents said their organization has 10 or fewer full-time IT employees.

Those lean IT teams are struggling as the growing adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications increases IT workloads and complexity. According to the survey, 49 percent of respondents said their organization manages 51 or more applications and services, while 1 in 10 (11 percent) manages more than 300 applications.

“A decade ago, a government was more likely to manage about 10 applications,” CDG* Senior Fellow William Rials, a former government CIO, CTO and CISO who is now a professor and associate director of the IT and cybersecurity program at Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement, said in the report.

“With the advent of specialized, cloud-based tools, it’s easier to acquire applications as a service, and there are lower hurdles to deploying them,” Rials said. The extent of management needed for cloud-based solutions varies, but internal IT teams remain the first line of support.


As highlighted in the survey, a lack of automation in the public sector is exacerbating the staffing and workload challenges. When asked to rank the tasks that require the most manual effort and staff time, the top 5 were:

To address this challenge, many organizations (58 percent) are either adopting automated workflow processes now or plan to in the next 12 to 18 months.

One of the easiest ways to introduce automation is by investing in an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool with automation and integration capabilities.


One of the biggest surprises of the survey was that only 38 percent of respondents said they have adopted or are in the process of adopting the ITIL framework while 26 percent are in the process of adopting ITIL now and an alarming 28 percent said they have no plans to adopt ITIL.

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and describes the processes, procedures, tasks and checklists that can be applied by an organization as part of an overall IT strategy.

Despite low ITIL adoption rates, many respondents said their agency has fully implemented critical IT service functions including event/incident response, project management, change management, integration with enterprise systems, self-service portals and software asset management. That can cause challenges, said Rials, because these functions work best when following ITIL best practices.

“You can’t do these things well if you don’t have a mature ITIL process in place,” Rials said. “Without ITIL, organizations may be doing tactical things without a strategy. It becomes a hodgepodge of solutions.”


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