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Cyber security is the top issue keeping federal agency CIOs up at night, followed by controlling costs and managing human capital, according a new survey.

Forty CIOs and other federal IT leaders, from agencies including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs ended up interviewed by TechAmerica, a tech industry group. Twenty percent identified cyber security as their top concern, followed by 15% who pointed to controlling costs, and 12% human capital.

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While most of security resources direct toward outside threats, internal threats are a growing concern, respondents said. At the same time, TechAmerica said outside threats are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated.

One CIO said IT security is inconsistent in federal government and quality is “all over the place.” A consequence of such concerns is agencies are unwilling to embrace federal IT goals for centralization and mobility, according to the report. There would be less concern if there was a consistent, high-quality security framework applied across government.

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Survey respondents recommended agencies identify which department “owns” security; that they plan ahead and build infrastructure with security in mind; and the government develop sound metrics for security monitoring.

Cost control was the second most-mentioned concern of federal CIOs, a reflection of flat IT budgets over the past three years. Some said budget discipline drove changes such as dropping unused software licenses and adopting thin-client hardware. However, across-the-board budget cuts were the “most feasible and least effective way” to control costs.

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