As a lawyer and executive leader, Lori Flanery never expected to find herself presiding over technology for Kentucky. But she did. “And it’s really been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me from a career perspective,” she said.
Flanery was appointed secretary of the state’s Finance and Administration Cabinet in 2011, having served as deputy secretary since 2007. Not only does the cabinet oversee the technology department, she was also Kentucky’s interim CIO for seven years. Flanery calls technology “a breath of fresh air.” The law is wonderful, she said, but it’s all about following precedent. Flanery enjoys the contrast of technology’s forward-looking viewpoint.
During her time as secretary, numerous IT initiatives have been implemented and strategic changes made, but it’s an upcoming project that Flanery is most excited about: a public-private partnership that will bring high-speed broadband statewide by late next year. Kentucky is laying middle-mile fiber to serve state government buildings, K-12 schools and universities — and allowing Internet providers to access the infrastructure. “We’re going to sell or lease the excess for economic development to help people who want to serve but who don’t have enough capital to lay the infrastructure themselves,” Flanery said.
Kentucky also saves millions of dollars annually by managing print devices. It may not sound as flashy, but Flanery calls the move “kind of a culture change.” She added that Kentucky may have been the first to approach managed print on a statewide basis.
With the governor’s term ending in December, Flanery is working to institutionalize the changes made so far, so they can become a platform for the next administration. “I think a lot of the things we’re doing are going to need next phases,” she said. “We’re just touching the very beginning of what we’re going to be able to do."
Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.