Michigan Selects Longtime IT Veteran Jack Harris as New CTO

Harris, who has worked within the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for many years, and held the position in an interim capacity since August last year, will now serve at its permanent leader.

by / May 6, 2019
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The state of Michigan has appointed a longtime IT veteran as its newest chief technology officer.  

Jack Harris, who has IT experience dating back to the 1970s, will be helming the position, which operates out of the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB). 

Harris comes to the position not only with extensive experience in the field, but with an intimate history and knowledge of the office that he now heads. 

For the past seven years, Harris has worked as director of both enterprise architecture and network strategies for the office of the CTO — working alongside longtime former Michigan CTO Rod Davenport.  

During this period, Harris worked to advance "strategies and projects to enhance and direct IT services and capabilities to support the growing and changing business needs" for the state government, according to his LinkedIn profile

After Davenport announced last August that he would be stepping down, Harris took over operations as acting CTO, said Caleb Buhs, communications director for DTMB.

Between then and now, DTMB conducted a search for a permanent CTO but ultimately decided that Harris was the best fit for the job, Buhs said.

"We posted a search and had a lot of great candidates but Jack was the best candidate out there," he said.

Harris officially started the position last week.

“My time as director of enterprise architecture gives me a good view of the enterprise as a whole — not just IT but governance, procurement and all of the other things that go along with centralized administration,” said Harris in an interview with Government Technology

Moving into the future, Harris said there were a number of big areas he was looking to focus on, one of which was simplifying the agency’s IT footprint.

“Reducing that complexity increases our security,” Harris said. 

Meanwhile, Harris said he was excited to transform the DTMB's main vendor relationships into meaningful partnerships, while also focusing on simplifying systems' user experience, ensuring that “state workers are enabled by the systems and not hampered by them,” he said. 

"Jack has 42 years of IT experience with the state of Michigan so his depth and breadth of knowledge ... is extensive," Buhs said. "Quite frankly, Jack always has a steady demeanor. He's a strong leader. In the IT world there's constant change and constantly something to be addressed as well, and Jack does a good job of leading that team with a calm, steadfast style that really plays well to ensure maximum success," he said. 

Michigan is also currently looking to hire a new CIO, but no search has yet been officially announced. 

Lucas Ropek Staff Writer

Lucas Ropek is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and writer in Massachusetts and New York. He received his Bachelor's degree in English from Kenyon College in Ohio. He lives in Northern California.

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