IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Arkansas CTO Jonathan Askins Leaves for Private Sector

In the job for just more than three years, Askins now has a job with a telecommunications firm based in the South. Among the issues he has tackled are artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data migration.

Arkansas Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Askins.jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
Say goodbye to Arkansas CTO Jonathan Askins — and hello to Jonathan Askins, national telecommunications accounts director.

After just more than three years on the job he has moved to the private sector as director of national accounts for C Spire, a Mississippi-based telecommunications firm.

Askins could not be immediately reached for comment. Jay Harton, COO of the state's Department of Information Systems, has taken over as interim director and CTO, according to an agency spokesperson.

According to his LinkedIn profile his new job involves “building a new division that will give our customers an ‘Easy’ button so they can focus on their core objectives.”

In late 2020, Askins left a management job at Acxiom, an Arkansas-based technology company, to take over for Yessica Jones, who had taken a private-sector job. Askins had previously worked with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, helping to increase tourism in the state.

During his time as CTO, Askins encouraged a cautious approach to generative AI by government officials. As he saw it, that includes crafting policies as states roll out AI tools, and making sure the technology isn’t soiled by bias or security and privacy holes.

“You let that genie out of the bottle, and it’s very difficult to get back in,” Askins said last fall.

He also favored a proactive view of cybersecurity by public agency tech officials.

Also during his leadership in Arkansas, Askins oversaw a major data center migration designed to move Arkansas away from its decentralized environment.

It was not immediately clear if the state has identified a replacement for Askins.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the name of the interim department director.