The responsibilities of a State Chief Administrator (SCA) are numerous and varied –managing critical state functions, providing services and support to other agencies, navigating uncertain and challenging political environments, and competing with the private sector for talent. To meet these responsibilities, SCAs must develop and execute strategies that push their agencies to perform better, seek new and innovative methods and tools to meet their goals, and develop a culture that attracts and retains high-caliber talent. In order to help SCAs meet these challenges, the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) and McKinsey & Company partnered to survey and report on key issues affecting today’s SCAs. The survey gathered information on SCAs’ agency responsibilities, changes to funding, allocation of time, strategy development, priorities, and the challenges they face. The survey probed into procurement, digitization and automation, areas of interest to many SCAs. The survey’s findings suggest how SCAs evaluate their situations, including:
Responsibilities – While some core responsibilities are common to most SCAs (e.g., real estate, procurement, finance), others are wide-ranging and differ across states, including roles like managing the state budget, process improvement and audit.
Strategic Planning – In the past 3 years, most State Chief Administrators have refreshed and extended their strategic plans to cover the next 2 to 4 years of activity. While each plan is unique, the majority focus on improving service delivery to customers, promoting ownership and accountability in performance outcomes, and supporting agency analyses and decision making.
Priorities – The leading priority for most SCAs is business process redesign and improvement, especially procurement modernization. Other priorities they share include facilities management and customer experience, all of which rely on digitization and automation to improve statewide systems.
Modernizing Procurement – Most SCAs are responsible for procurement and many manage a centralized procurement process. To modernize the procurement process, the findings suggest shifting to a data-driven approach that uses a robust fact base to inform each procurement, moving beyond data collection to analysis and reporting, and distilling performance metrics to focus on key levers such as time-to-procure and standards-based versions of value.
Digitization and Automation – SCAs understand the value of digitization and automation and realize they will be essential to their agencies’ success in the next 1 to 3 years. Even so, none have implemented automation at scale and many are still exploring how to apply these technologies to specific business processes. Task automation is gaining popularity, with about 50 percent using some form of smart workflow or robotic process automation, but very few applying cognitive automation.