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IT Chief Phil Wittmer Resigns as New Kansas Governor Takes Reins

Phil Wittmer, chief information technology officer for the state of Kansas, stepped down after incoming Gov. Jeff Colyer was sworn in Jan. 31.

by / February 5, 2018
Jessica Mulholland/Government Technology

The state of Kansas’s top technology official has stepped down just days after the arrival of a new governor — a shift that is not uncommon in public-sector IT.

Phil Wittmer, the state’s Chief IT Officer (CITO) since July 2015, tendered his resignation effective Feb. 2, just two days after incoming Gov. Jeffrey Colyer was sworn in on Jan. 31.

As is also customary, the state has temporarily promoted from within. Chief Operating Officer Donna Shelite started work on Feb. 5 as interim CITO in the Office of Information Technology Services (OIT), Kara Fullmer, press secretary for the Governor’s office, confirmed via email.

“At this time, she has not selected anyone to be her COO,” Fullmer said.

Colyer’s plans for state IT, and the process and timeline by which the state will replace Wittmer, are also somewhat unclear at this juncture.

“Shelite plans to meet with Gov. Colyer this week to discuss the plan for the executive branch IT office,” Fullmer said, noting that it’s currently unknown whether the new governor has other C-level IT executives in mind for the agency.

Shelite, whose LinkedIn profile still lists her as COO at OIT, joined the department in October 2013 after having been director of vehicles at the Kansas Department of Revenue.

These changes aren’t the only high-level updates underway. Colyer also replaced four cabinet secretaries, and announced several other staffing changes.

Among them, Larry Campbell, a state representative, will join the Budget Office as chief budget officer — a shift, the state said, that will “allow the governor’s office to increase its focus on performance-based budgeting,” and help the administration work with the Legislature on education funding.

Wittmer, who brought more than 20 years of private-sector IT experience to the state, has continued to serve as president of Lead-IT, an IT executive leadership and strategy consultancy.

Last year, he said that Kansas, which had committed to a shared private cloud project, known as Kansas GovCloud, had questions about its projected return on investment, and was instead contemplating a pivot to an outsourced hybrid cloud.

Also in 2017, Kansas announced it had chosen startup company PayIt to enhance the digital services it offers residents — a move that Wittmer said at the 2017 NASCIO Midyear conference in Arlington, Va., would help the state become more transparent.

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Theo Douglas Staff Writer

Theo Douglas is 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.

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