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Kentucky's Newest C-Level Exec Will Guide IT Centralization, Data Work

Krishna Mohan Mupparaju, the Commonwealth Office of Technology's new chief data officer and chief technology officer, is guiding IT centralization and taking a hard look at agency data stores.

Kentucky is working to elevate the status of state data and taking steps to develop its inventory and use, with a new leader under the state’s new chief information officer.

Krishna Mohan Mupparaju, a 20-year state employee whose career has seen him rise from enterprise systems architect to chief enterprise architect and executive director of the office of project management, was named as the state's chief data officer and chief technology officer on Aug. 1. It’s a combined role he characterized as having been created to support CIO Chuck Grindle’s vision for positioning the state as an IT leader and as “foundational” to setting the state’s vision, technology roadmap and IT strategy alignment with the governor’s priorities and the Legislature’s mandate. The state named Grindle, a retired U.S. Army veteran with federal-level IT experience, as CIO on Dec. 8.

Kentucky has been moving toward a tech centralization at least since 2012, when the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) became the centralized infrastructure services provider for executive cabinets and some elected offices. Gov. Matt Bevin enabled the ongoing reorganization and centralization of state IT late last year with the signing of Executive Order 244, which furthered IT centralization by giving the CIO authority over IT and spending. Aspects of his dual CDO/CTO role are still being refined, the new C-level executive said, but what is very clear is that it will have a deep impact on the state’s technology direction and work with data.

As CTO, currently an informal role, Mupparaju will be responsible for shaping the state’s long-term technology vision, optimizing infrastructure and “evolving” how COT delivers IT services. It’s a shift, he said, that will enable the state to have another focus beyond necessary, operational needs around “keeping the lights on, performance and putting out the fires” toward long-term planning and adapting to newer tech like cloud and 5G.

The state’s infrastructure consolidation should conclude within the next few months, and in mid-October officials completed the second test of Mainframe-as-a-Service with IBM as its provider. The agency is close to “cutting over” to a Dell-based converged infrastructure that’s already in production, and has migrated 2,800 virtual machines and more than 100 physical servers to its new platform — freeing up space in its data center which it can offer to other public entities at a nominal cost.

But Mupparaju’s attention is also on data, where the new executive said his “principal short-term requirement” is to understand best practices in data management. Somewhat similar to how its hardware and software assets were once divided among cabinets and agencies pre-consolidation, the state’s data assets are currently de-centralized. Mupparaju said he’ll work to create a baseline inventory of data assets and how those are defined — a necessary first step in determining how to correlate data and data systems to create meaningful asset from information.

Grindle recognizes the state’s long-term goals will require a “fundamental” entwining of tech decisions and data repositories, Mupparaju said in an email. His dual role enables a unified view of technology through strategy and planning, he added — but he indicated it is possible the two offices may someday need to be led independently as the state’s approach and experience mature.

“It’s already going, and some of the long-term efforts are also coming to fruition right now. But now the immediate focus is getting a little bit of maturity into our organization in terms of data. So, that will be my immediate focus,” he said in an interview with Government Technology, referring to consolidated infrastructure and Mainframe-as-a-Service.

COT is working on the formalizing of the CDO office and is scrutinizing how to begin documenting data, storage locations and definitions to forge a set of policies spelling out the definitions of data and enterprise data, as well as formulating CIO policies around data and information for the executive cabinet. The compliance officer is currently working to forge a master data agreement at the enterprise level for all executive cabinets, the CDO said. Any use cases with special requirements that can’t be covered in that master pact can be handled with an addendum in the form of a business associate agreement, specific to the piece of data in question.

There’s considerable interest, Mupparaju said, because officials don’t want to wait to access data and are supportive of streamlining the process of data usage. However, he indicated he expects one of his greatest challenges to be in this very area of master data management.

“Anyone who has attempted to reconcile large data sets ‘owned’ by different business owners and used for similar but slightly different applications realizes that the effort is not simply a technical challenge. It is a collaborative process that will take effort and good will,” he said via email.

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was 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.