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Missouri Appoints New CIO to Continue Modernization Efforts

Newly appointed state CIO Jeffrey Wann will bring both public- and private-sector IT modernization experience to the role. Wann will build on the work of his predecessor Mike Cheles, who retired in December.

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Missouri has named a permanent chief information officer to continue consolidation and modernization efforts within the Office of Administration IT Services.

Jeffrey Wann, who recently retired as vice president of information technology at Illinois Mutual Life, will lead the state’s Information Technology Services Division. While Wann has spent the past 14 years in various private-sector IT roles, his resume boasts time as CTO of the Federal Reserve and director of infrastructure and business systems modernization for the IRS.

Speaking with Government Technology, Wann said he was tapped by Commissioner Sarah Steelman because of his experience with the rollout of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Missouri officials are considering the implementation of an ERP system.

“It’s something that seems to be right up my alley,” Wann said. “I love people and I love to create a vision, and then create an implementation plan to see those things through. To me, it’s a really exciting opportunity.”

He’ll start by building relationships between his staff and officials, he said, to understand the scope of projects before he outlines a plan of action.

Wann will be stepping into an organization reinvigorated by his predecessor Mike Cheles, who retired in December after three years as the state’s CIO. Wann said he plans to keep Cheles’ policies in place.

“My understanding is that [Mike Cheles] really started the ball rolling on consolidation, transformation and more efficiency,” Wann said. “Absolutely, we’d be going down that road and looking for areas of duplication, looking for areas of automation — moving from manual processes to more automated processes — those types of things. I’ve done a lot of that in the past and I’d like to bring that to the table.”

Wann said his spin on modernization is to focus on training and reskilling personnel to use new technologies that will benefit their productivity and job satisfaction in the long term. One example, he said, is his dedication to helping employees obtain additional certifications and education. The more an organization invests in its employees, the more they can contribute.

It’s not just IT professionals who will be the recipients of more training, Wann said. IT encompasses an entire department, especially when it comes to cybersecurity.

“Security is something that I think is part of everything that we do in IT and it has to be looked upon that way,” Wann said. “It doesn’t need to be looked upon as the job of the security department or the CISO, it’s something that everyone has to be involved in.”

The speed differential between government and the private sector is something Wann’s predecessor had to adapt to. However, Wann said he has a track record of moving faster than average in the public sector. He takes advantage of the slower speed of government, he said, relying more so on best practices gleaned from early adopters of emerging technologies.

“You don’t have to go through the same pains as those who were pioneers and trudging through for the first time,” he said. “You can take all those lessons learned and be more efficient.”

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.
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