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Michigan CIO to Depart as New Governor Takes the Reins

David DeVries helped Michigan launch a statewide ERP system, move the state’s computers to Windows 10 and replace several legacy systems for multiple agencies. Now, with a new governor inbound, he's stepping down.

Michigan CIO David DeVries announced this week he will step down from his position Jan. 1. The state’s governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer has yet to name a replacement.

DeVries, 60, has been the state’s CIO and director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) since Gov. Rick Snyder appointed him on Aug. 30, 2017. Prior to that, DeVries served as a CIO for both the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and U.S. Department of Defense, and a special assistant to a commanding general of the U.S. Army, where he directed daily activities establishing enterprise-level IT services.

When DeVries assumed the role of state CIO, he said, Michigan had consolidated its technology operations under the banner of the DTMB, and started investing in IT infrastructure. The state had already replaced many aging switches and server pieces, but much of the wholesale move to the cloud — and requisite cybersecurity enhancements — needed a push to move forward.

DeVries recalled picking up the reins last year from his predecessor, David Behen, with a sense of urgency and ideas about how his experience at the Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management would help him accelerate Michigan’s IT progress. Namely, over the past 16 months, that has meant launching a statewide enterprise resource planning system. DeVries greenlit the new ERP system on his first day and saw it officially go live Oct. 3, 2017.

“Now the state is on a centralized ERP solution that replaced over 100 different feeder systems feeding the old system,” he said. “We’ve streamlined it to where we are now able to get reconciliations and closing of the fiscal books in a much more central fashion, and a much better perspective on it.”

Other initiatives under DeVries’ watch included moving most of the state’s 57,000 computers to Microsoft Windows 10; moving the state’s treasury systems to the SAP HANA cloud; an award-winning mobile portal for citizens and families to get benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services; and an impending replacement of the state’s online system for obtaining motor vehicle titles set to launch in February.

DeVries also credited Michigan as one of a few states seriously tackling IT transparency and cost-accounting, which it has started doing with a commercial solution called Technology Business Management.

Although he stopped short of offering an explicit word of advice to his yet-unnamed successor, DeVries said it’s important to choose a new tool only after the necessary framework is in place. Besides that, he said, just remember the mission.

“As CIO, you’re a cabinet member, and therefore you work for the governor, and you’re supporting the mission,” he said. “It’s not about what you do as a CIO, it’s about what your department does in support of the other departments in accomplishing their missions. Together, then, the state wins, and they all win.”

Still considering his next move, DeVries said the only date on his calendar is Tuesday, when he’ll start a 45-day sailing journey from Tortola to Tahiti, helping his friend deliver a boat to its new owner.

“For an old Army guy, I just want fair winds and following seas,” he said.

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.