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Kelly Johnson

State IT Leadership of the Year

The Kansas Department of Labor’s April announcement that it’s finally — after some aborted attempts — replacing the 50-year-old mainframe that powers the state’s unemployment system was a big moment for Kelly Johnson, the agency’s CIO. “It will enable us to be able to hire employees that are familiar with current technology,” he says, noting that COBOL skills are increasingly rare in the cloud-first era. “It is a huge relief. Not just in IT, but agency-wide.” But even prior to the cloud contract, Johnson had already implemented new identify-verification software, which he says “exponentially” cut down the fraudulent claims that feasted on pandemic unemployment programs.

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