Kansas City, Mo.’s top technology official, an executive with an eye for detail who helped create a culture of innovation and guided the municipality on its journey toward becoming a smart city pioneer, will depart at month’s end.
The city’s chief information officer, Mary J. Miller, whose nearly 30-year municipal career spans four decades, will retire effective April 30, a city spokesman confirmed to Government Technology, indicating the agency “thanks her for her service” and wishes her well in retirement. David Evans, Miller’s deputy CIO and a 30-year staffer himself, has “already been appointed the replacement,” Evans said via email.
She advanced from programmer to senior systems analyst to assistant director before becoming deputy CIO in March 2008; and CIO in May 2012. Along the way, Miller managed HR and payroll systems; upgraded the city’s financial system and implemented an enterprise resource planning system (ERP).
“During my career, I have been instrumental in changing the culture at the city of Kansas City, Missouri, from mainframe in-house development shop to web and mobile applications within a (Software as a Service model) or virtual environment,” Miller said. (She did not respond to emails seeking comment.)
In an email, Chris Hernandez, director of the City Communications Office, said Miller “oversaw fundamental changes” including implementation of PeopleSoft, an ERP solution; GenTax, an integrated tax processing system; E-Builder, a capitol project management system, as well as an upgraded network core, citywide Voice over Internet Protocol, and fiber implementation at city facilities.
“During her career, she was instrumental in changing the culture at the city of Kansas City, Mo., from a mainframe shop to a Web and cloud-based environment,” Hernandez said, noting that from 2014 to 2017, during Miller’s tenure managing the IT Division, Kansas City ranked in the top five in its population category, in the Center for Digital Government’s* Digital Cities Survey.
More recently, Kansas City has come to be known for several external-facing IT projects that are poised to reshape, or are already transforming the city.
Its smart streetcars downtown, capable of identifying and dodging obstacles as they collect data; and 178 intelligent streetlights that adjust their light levels automatically, are perhaps best-known, but last month the city issued an RFP seeking to scale that tech across its more than 300 square miles.
Also in March, Kansas City for the first time hosted the third annual Smart Cities Connect Conference, which had previously been held in Austin; and conducted a test case with the Avis Budget Group during the Big 12 Tournament, sending and receiving data to 5,000 connected rental vehicles.
“Working with her, whenever I need something or needed something … the question is never ‘We can’t do that.’ The question is more ‘How can we do that,’” said city Chief Innovation Officer Bob Bennett.
Bennett noted that his tenure at the city only began a little more than two years ago, but highlighted Miller’s work with Sprint during that time, to enable public Wi-Fi through data-sharing; and on the OneIT initiative — which seeks to merge city and police IT departments, achieving financial and operational efficiencies as well as visibility.
He pronounced her work on public Wi-Fi “awesome,” adding, “She also figured out in many ways how to combine the IT departments of the police department and the city, which is perhaps more impressive given the fact that the state controls our police department. She doesn’t ever tackle small projects.”
Evans, who assumes management of more than 50 staff members as well as enterprise-level apps and infrastructure, said OneIT and city-wide fiber sharing, will be one of Kansas City’s next key endeavors.
“The Kansas City, Missouri, police department is the only police department in the country that does not report to the city they serve. The mayor, city manager and police chief want to combine forces to maximize efficiencies and gain operational savings,” said Evans, who last week discussed cybersecurity on KCUR 89.3 FM, a National Public Radio affiliate.
Completing the OneIT initiative, the city said in a tweet late last year, “will save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time."
*The Center for Digital Government is owned by e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
Theo Douglas is a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.