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Mike Wons, Architect of Illinois' Technology Modernization, Returning to Private Sector

After two years as the state's chief technology officer, Mike Wons is stepping down for a similar role with a global risk compliance firm.

Mike Wons, Illinois’ chief technology officer (CTO) and a key architect of its ongoing tech modernization, is stepping down, he confirmed to Government Technology Dec. 11.

He is the state's second leading technology official to resign in three months, following the departure of Chief Information Officer Hardik Bhatt, who joined a public-sector-facing team at Amazon, Sept. 14.

In an email, the CTO said he will join SAI Global — a private-equity-backed global risk, compliance and cybersecurity company — at the beginning of 2018 as its chief technology and product officer. But he indicated that he intends to remain involved in goverment IT.

"The integrated risk management and compliance space is critical to governments across the globe," Wons said via email.

Wons came to the state in 2015 after six years as the CEO of CellTrak Technologies Inc., a provider of software-as-a-service mobile solutions to home health-care, hospice and private markets in the U.S. and Canada.

Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) Acting Secretary Kirk Lonbom praised his work on the state's “early digital transformation efforts” and his progress “in the strategic and operational areas of our new agency," in a Dec. 6 memo informing staff of Wons' departure.

“As CTO, Mike led many transformation efforts including the Going Mobile in Illinois program, bringing mobility to citizen engagement points,” Lonbom said, noting mobility rose “from minimal” to nearly 50 percent agencywide in less than 18 months.

In a March 2016 piece for Government Technology, Wons noted that various agencies had been building mobile responsive sites and “developing mobile apps.” But he identified a “lack of strategy and direction” at the state.

“The long-term vision is for all state of Illinois applications to be 'MobileFIRST' and to be accessible on all mobile form factors, and for the state to use mobility as a strategy to solve critical business problems,” he wrote, citing mobile responsive design and apps created by the Department of Children and Family Services and other agencies.

Illinois, Wons wrote, expects mobile-enabled interactions to rise to 45 percent by the end of 2017 and to 80 percent by the end of 2019.

Wons also discussed the Illinois Fast, Innovative, Responsive, Smarter, and Technology strategy (FIRST) strategy and creating one IT voice enterprisewide. It was, he explained, a method to “create a unique ecosystem” improving agency operations and bringing the state closer to residents and businesses “with minimal overhead and maximum reach.”

Key deliverables, he said, include service delivery management — including establishing service-level agreements for the state for the first time; continued transformation of major agencies through infrastructure modernization; expansion of the security operation center; and continued focus under Lonbom of forging an enterprise culture "known as OneDoIT."

"The state needs to continue to invest and head down the path of implementing the remaining six planned sprints to complete the statewide transformation effort," Wons said in the email.

Lonbom also praised Wons’ work as a founding member of the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, bringing “Illinois’ involvement in the emerging technology to international recognition.”

The state had six blockchain pilots underway in September, including a birth registry that would document births via blockchain; and a self-sovereign, digital identity controlled by its owner but quickly verifiable by authorities.

In the memo, Lonbom characterized the departing executive as “a valuable member of DoIT’s leadership team.”

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Techwire.net, and before that was 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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