Ken Theis, Michigan’s technology chief for the past three years, has left public-sector service for a new job in private industry, Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s office announced Thursday, Sept. 16.

Serving as the first director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB), Theis held a unique position among state CIOs that signaled technology’s increasing importance in day-to-day government operations and strategic initiatives.

In December 2007, Theis was named state CIO, replacing Teri Takai. In that position, Theis also was director of the Department of Information Technology, an agency that Granholm merged earlier this year with the Department of Management and Budget to form the DTMB.

That was just one change among many that Theis helped steward as Michigan sought cost savings and efficiencies in the face of debilitating budget pressures and revenue shortfalls.

“We have implemented a one-stop shop for businesses, replaced major legacy systems like our eligibility system and Medicaid, provided more online services for citizens, and done it all with a focus on security and protecting sensitive information,” Theis said Thursday.

Theis also worked to develop cross-boundary collaboration that resulted in shared services used by state and local governments in Michigan. One such example was an e-health application used by the state and Oakland County.

He championed an economic development initiative called New Economy Partnerships that brought together multiple state government agencies to quickly assemble economic subsidies, college training packages and other incentives that are specifically tailored to the needs of prospective high-tech employers.

In a statement, Granholm called Theis instrumental to the state’s success. “The impact of his work will be felt for years to come and we wish him nothing but continued success,” she said.

Theis said he is proud of these efforts to streamline government and has been fortunate to work for Granholm, who Theis said, “has supported us every step of the way when it comes to reshaping government technology.”

“I will miss public service and I thank my many colleagues and friends in state government who have helped us be so successful. We have assembled a world-class team with clear vision and a road map for transforming government service — a team that I would match up against any other in the nation,” Theis said.

Theis rose through the ranks of Michigan’s IT leadership after working in management positions for General Motors, where in 1998 he received the Chairman’s Honors Award and the General Motors CIO Award in 1999.

In state government, he served as Takai’s deputy CIO prior to replacing her and before that was deputy CIO for the Michigan Family Independence Agency.

In 2009, Theis received Government Technology’s Doers, Dreamers and Drivers award. 

He is taking an undisclosed position in the private sector and will be replaced on an acting basis by current DTMB Deputy Director Phyllis Mellon, who on two other occasions has served as an acting agency director for Granholm’s administration.

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor