Arkansas Gets Renewed Tech Focus

CTO Mark Myers will work hard to fuel his department as the technology engine that drives economic development and education in the state.

by / January 28, 2015
Arkansas CTO Mark Myers
Arkansas CTO Mark Myers

Technology in Arkansas is soon to change, according to management.

Chief Technology Officer Mark Myers took the reins at the state’s Department of Information Systems (DIS) on Jan. 19, and he said he’s ready to work hard and fast to renew the state’s technology focus, promote broadband development, and fuel his department as the technology engine that drives economic development and education in the state.

“It’s a new day at DIS. We’ve had a few hiccups, and we’re ready to move forward,” Myers said. “In the first 30 days, I’m working on a plan to both re-energize the agency, both from a policy and process standpoint, and also from a people standpoint.”

Myers spent the last four years serving as director of Strategic Initiatives at the Secretary of State’s office, and he’s bringing some of that experience to Arkansas. Remote desktop services and automation are both technologies the Secretary of State's office used, and that the state could deploy to minimize downtime and maximize efficiency, he said.

Talking about your work style is one thing, Myers said, but he intends to lead through example by showing DIS how he expects people to work.

“The one thing that would characterize my style is I work hard, I work late and I work fast,” Myers said. “So I think the speed at which I work is hopefully an example to the rest of the agency, and when I talk about, ‘We’re going to work hard, we’re going to work fast,’ that they see what that is. I need to be the role model for that.”

One of the projects and new directions for technology in Arkansas is pursuing it as an enabler for economic development and education, Myers said. Nothing specific is planned yet, but the DIS is looking at “connectivity for kids, connectivity for schools and connectivity for the department itself,” he said. Myers’ focus on education may be a response to past criticism that DIS has failed to serve schools with the connectivity and services they needed.

Though he may work fast, Myers said, he’s not shortsighted. When it comes to projects like building the state’s networking and cloud capabilities, assisting broadband development as the state broadband manager, or shoring up cybersecurity, he said, the long view is critical.

“I’m trying to look out the next 25 years. Some people are worried about getting at what today’s service is,” Myers said, “but I think as a technology guy, you always have to be looking that far out.”

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.