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Kansas CTO Stacy Mill Champions State Agency Innovation

Chief Technology Officer and Deputy CITO Stacy Mill brings her many years of tech experience to Kansas to boost security, modernize legacy systems and encourage broadband accessibility.

Kansas Chief Technology Officer Stacy Mill
When Stacy Mill came to state government from the private sector in 2019, she brought years of experience. Her skills in addressing IT risk management and enhancing operational excellence are serving her and Kansas well as the state works to address common challenges like bolstering security, modernizing legacy systems and supporting broadband accessibility.

1. Can you describe your role with the state?

In the CTO role, I lead the Office of Information Technology Services, which is the centralized services agency for the state of Kansas. That’s everything from operations of IT to all the different data services, as well as all the professional services we provide. Secondarily, I partner with all the CIOs in the various agencies, as well as non-cabinet agencies like highway patrol and others. Lastly, I’m in a dual role. As the deputy chief information technology officer, I also oversee a lot of the security functions along with the CISO, the chief architect and the chief operating officer.

I started when we had the change of administration. Our secretary of administration, DeAngela Burns-Wallace, approached me. She was new to the CITO role and brand-new to the secretary of administration role. A great conversation ensued, and long story short, I just fell in love. The main pillars I’m focused on are operational excellence, IT risk management, technology modernization and IT service management. 

2. How do you work with agency CIOs to balance their needs and champion innovation?

My background has served me well, having worked in health care, food service with Yum! Brands, automotives and manufacturing. Each agency is like a different ecosystem. Their services are different, their customers have different needs and it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. The main thing is to build relationships to understand what needs are. We’re here to provide service, not to dictate service. That takes trust. I’ve never worked in government before and have grown up in corporate America. What I saw when I started was that agencies were paying premium dollars for great tools, for example, but were either not getting the service they were paying for or not having the training needed to use it.

That’s been a big thing — getting the lay of the land, seeing what we’re offering and understanding the technical debt of a state that had literally not refreshed hardware in more than eight years when I arrived. We’re asking, “What are your needs? And what do I have to serve your needs?” I sat down with every single person on my team and every CIO. I organized all the feedback and worked to present a simple strategy around how can I help. I am not here to own anything; I am here to make sure you have what you need. 

3. Is your office involved in Kansas’ broadband efforts?

We have an Office of Broadband Development under our Department of Commerce. That happened last year. The big thing for me with lack of broadband is that it relates to innovation. Software-defined wide area network, for example, leverages as a main core component virtualization of security, and it brings that all together in a solid layer that takes advantage of broadband. Broadband is really a larger input at a cheaper price. 

It’s not anything new, but what I saw here was an outdated circuit-to-circuit network. We’re still there. Nothing’s changed yet, but that’s next: How do we modernize our own infrastructure to meet needs? Meanwhile, I’ve partnered on broadband because our work is not just about providing services, it’s also about constituents’ access to those services and it’s also about our employees. During this pandemic, it was revolutionary for them to be working from home, and they need broadband. We need broadband to enable industry, commerce and growth, but also to enable our constituency to digitally connect to a bigger world.  

4. What are some of your new projects for 2021?

My big thing this year is having our team working on operational excellence. We have a great team. We staffed a new COO and an enterprise architect. The COO has an IT service management background, and she’s building on our service desk, modernizing and leveraging the tools we have.

We’re also working hard on modernization. That’s job one for me: What does our network of the future look like and how do we get there? No. 2 is working with the CISO on IT risk management and helping provide what we need for that next layer of cybersecurity. The last thing is working with the CITO to enable our leaders and make sure every level of our organization is set for success.

 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine
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