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Kansas IT Chief Quits Abruptly After Credentials Questioned

Jim Mann resigns after less than a week amid local reports he obtained degree from a diploma mill.

One day after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced that Jim Mann was appointed as the state’s chief IT officer, Mann abruptly resigned after controversy arose about his academic credentials.

Mann was officially appointed during a news conference on Monday, Nov. 7. Brownback said Mann would oversee and improve IT efficiency in Kansas — a position paying $150,000 a year. A press release from the governor announcing Mann’s appointment — which has since been pulled from the state website — stated that Mann had received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Devonshire in the United Kingdom.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Monday that the University of Devonshire isn’t accredited by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation in the United States or the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the United Kingdom. The University of Devonshire is linked to a “diploma mill,” the newspaper reported.

By Tuesday, Nov. 8, Mann had submitted his resignation via a letter to the governor’s office, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson from Brownback’s office told Government Technology on Wednesday that the search for Mann’s replacement will begin immediately.

According to the Capital-Journal, the Kansas governor and his staff weren’t aware that the University of Devonshire was not an accredited institution prior to hiring Mann. “The education was not a factor in his hiring,” Brownback said in a statement.

According to the Brownback’s office, Mann formerly served as the CTO at Service Brands International where he managed a Microsoft “Gold Partner” development team.  He previously owned Irishmann Enterprises Inc., where he was responsible for overseeing administration, sales and operation activities for a business-to-business franchise.

Mann previously also served as the global vice president and CIO of Havi Foodservice Worldwide. He also served for four years as vice president and CIO of Lawson Products Inc.

Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.