Kansas’ digital services app has reached one-third of eligible users, IT chief says

Kansas Chief Information Technology Officer Lee Allen said the state's iKan mobile app has been downloaded by more than 350,000 of the state's residents since its April 2018 launch.
Kansas Chief Information Technology Officer Lee Allen speaks at the 2019 Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. (StateScoop)

Kansas plans to expand the services offered on its iKan mobile app, which launched in April 2018 and has already reached one-third of the state’s smartphone-owning adults, the state’s chief information technology officer said Tuesday.

More than 350,000 Kansans installed and started using iKan in the app’s first year of availability, Lee Allen said at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington. Allen said that enrollment represents a significant portion of Kansans between the ages of 18 and 65 who have the need to conduct transactions with the state government.

IKan, the state’s first mobile platform for digital services, launched giving users the abilities to renew their vehicle registrations. It has since expanded to include driver’s licenses, permits to use state parks and vital records, like birth, death and marriage certificates.

But the most crucial success of the platform, Allen said, has been the standardization of its users’ digital footprint across platforms.


“It’s a digital government wallet for citizens, is what it ultimately comes down to,” he said. “It provides this single identity for the citizens of the state of Kansas, something that state government across the board struggles to do.”

Allen said that Kansas hopes to expand the app’s services to include health care licensing and local property tax management. 

“What it looks like today on the iKan platform will look very different a year from now, I will say that There will be a lot more content there,” he said. 

So far, Allen said, the app’s users have completed about 660,000 mobile transactions, which has helped pad the state’s coffers. Revenue brought in by allowing users to purchase park passes on the platform brought in an additional $500,000 in revenue, he said.

Allen said he sees the platform as the future of government service delivery, as chief information officers continue to shift into broker roles in which they research and acquire technologies for their organizations, rather than develop every application internally. For iKan, Kansas hired the public-sector software firm PayIt, which specializes in building customized apps for mobile service delivery to the public.


“It’s an acknowledgement that the state CIO is no longer the owner of building and delivering every application to meet these business needs and requirements,” Allen said.

And people increasingly expect such services from their governments, said Hardik Bhatt, a former Illinois CIO who now leads AWS’ digital government group.

“People are saying we want constituents to get expedients,” he said, nodding to the web giant’s retail services like books, groceries and streaming video. “All of that is on a single customer profile with just one log-in. And that’s where people want to go.”

Still, Allen said some of his internal partners in the Kansas government were initially doubtful about cloud-based transactions. Allen said at times people unfamiliar with the systems “think it’s just wild west with their data.”

PayIt’s software uses a single sign-in to access the suite of services its customers make available on the app, and stores data in Amazon’s GovCloud, a cloud platform designed to hold sensitive U.S. government data.


The iKan app did suffer an early security blunder days after its launch last year. Citizens discovered a flaw in the app that exposed data if users entered a random PIN or license plate other than their own. PayIt said it patched the issue within days.

PayIt is beginning work in its 14th state, and has created apps like iKan in Texas, Florida and North Carolina, said Mike Wons, a former Illinois chief technology officer who is now the software firm’s top client-relations officer. The company is also in talks with the federal government to provide similar services, Wons said.

“I believe you’ll see some of that functionality from us here in the very near future,” he said.

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