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Utah Chief Information Officer Mike Hussey Announces Departure

After five years of service as Utah's chief information officer, Mike Hussey has announced his plans to step down. His final day will be Jan. 4, the same day that Spencer Cox will be inaugurated governor of Utah.

Utah CIO Mike Hussey
Mike Hussey, CIO, State of Utah
Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology
Mike Hussey will step away from his role as Utah's chief information on Jan. 4. 

Hussey told Government Technology that his plans are uncertain, as he's still eyeing retirement goals. However, Hussey believes Utah IT is in a good place, partially because of the foundation that he inherited from his predecessors. 

"That's the great thing about Utah," said Hussey, who was one of GovTech's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2018. "We had some great leaders before me who left some really big shoes to fill. I felt like I just walked into a very good trajectory, and we continued on that trajectory."

Before he became Utah's CIO in 2015, Hussey was an IT manager for the Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS). He also served as a LAN administrator in the office of former Gov. Jon Huntsman, and was once a network manager at the University of Utah. 

One of Hussey's primary responsibilities as CIO was to lead the state's cybersecurity efforts. During his five-year tenure, Hussey's team created a cybercenter and strengthened relationships with federal, city and county partners so that the state could be in a better position to thwart and respond to cyberthreats. 

"I feel the state is much safer than it was five years ago," Hussey said. 

Hussey is also proud of Utah's journey toward the cloud during his stint as CIO. He said Utah hadn't started moving to the cloud before he came in and that the state's ongoing cloud initiative has required incredible work by DTS staff and agencies. DTS even stood up an organization that allows the state to move to the cloud more quickly. 

"Moving to the cloud wasn't just moving to the cloud," Hussey said. "There was a lot of infrastructure that occurred. There was a lot of org changes that occurred ... All of that coming together allowed us to have this momentum."

Hussey repeatedly referenced the behind-the-scenes work that makes government IT projects come alive. He alluded to the multiple moving parts that helped Utah establish its coronavirus website earlier this year. He talked about various activities that made telework possible in Utah: standing up call centers, creating a remote work experience for employees, utilizing desktop as a service and modifying VPN systems. In other words, the state CIO role, particularly during 2020, gave Hussey the opportunity to be "at the pinnacle of state service."

"We've been able to crush the [coronavirus] curve by allowing people to work remotely," he said. 

Now that Hussey's time as a state CIO is coming to an end, he can't wait to see how government IT will evolve from an outsider's perspective. He said the work of a CIO, the duty to make changes for the citizens of the country, goes beyond the borders between local areas and states. 

"I'm going to be armchair quarterbacking a little, but I'm anxiously awaiting all the great stories that will come from all of my great CIO colleagues," Hussey said. 

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.