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Kentucky recruits new CIO to lead IT optimization effort

Retired U.S. Army Col. Chuck Grindle will continue an executive IT modernization project already several years underway.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Managing Editor

Colin Wood is the managing editor of StateScoop. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine. Before that, he taught Engl...

(Commonwealth Office of Technology)

Since first piling together all its legacy IT in 2013, Kentucky state officials announced Friday they finally have a new CIO to sort through it all.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Chuck Grindle has been serving as Kentucky's new chief information officer within the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) since early October. Grindle replaces Jim Barnhart, the state's deputy commissioner of COT, who had been serving as acting CIO since the departure of former state CIO Jim Fowler in late 2015. Grindle told StateScoop the state's consolidated IT equipment is like a used car lot — and it's time to decide what stays and what goes.

"We have four-and-a-half, five years' worth of data," Grindle said. "We know what's there and we understand the scope of that project and we're in the midst of going ahead and putting in a new infrastructure that we can migrate to — what I call 'our cloud.'"

The state's collection of virtual and physical servers will be assessed within the next six months, Grindle said, as COT targets August for completing its infrastructure optimization.

After infrastructure, Grindle said his office will move on to services. Data that's safe to move into the commercial cloud will be moved there, while more sensitive data will be maintained in "our cloud," he said, while "best-of-breed" solutions will be standardized across the enterprise.

For instance, the state has several identity management systems, which Grindle said will be examined, with one optimized solution eventually being offered to all state government offices.

The state's optimization project follows consolidation initiated in 2013 through an executive order signed by then-Gov. Steven Beshear, a Democrat, that sought cost reduction, improved security, and an increased focus on "mission rather than operational issues."

Through Grindle's appointment, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin seeks to continue this work to completion. While many CIOs are appointed through past employment with a state or for their work on a single large project, — like an ERP upgrade — officials like Finance and Administration Secretary William Landrum say it is Grindle's "breadth of experience and depth of knowledge" that led the state to seek him out and recruit him.

The optimization project's aggressive timeline is backed by what Grindle calls an "action plan."

"One of the things I did for the Army in my former capacity was I developed strategy, but then I created the action plan that allows you to do this," he said.

Before joining state government, Grindle served for 29 years in the Army in a wide range of tactical, operational and strategic assignments ranging from IT and field artillery to teaching at the U.S. Army War College and serving as CIO for the U.S. Military Academy.

In his first weeks at Kentucky, Grindle established a project management office that separated the functions of project managers and department directors. The idea was to unload directors so they could focus on fixing things when they break, while project managers can lead projects, he said.

Working for the military and working as a military instructor trained him to think critically about complex problems, Grindle said, and now he's applying that same thinking to state government IT.

"In the commonwealth, you're looking at 'what are the most desirable choices for information technology that can provide the best bang for the buck?'" Grindle said. "The enjoyable thing for me is — strategy is great, but being able to develop the action plan, the things that are actually going to get done to support that strategy. I think that's where a lot of strategies fall short."

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States, Kentucky, State & Local News, Careers & Elected Officials, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Legislation, Tech News, Digital Services, IT Infrastructure, Modernization, Chuck Grindle, Charles Grindle, Commonwealth Office of Technology, Matt Bevin

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