Missouri officials announced Wednesday that Mike Cheles, a former chief information officer for the Gibson guitar company, will be the state’s new permanent CIO. Cheles succeeds Rich Kliethermes, who had held the statewide CIO job since 2015 on an acting and will now become the acting deputy director of Missouri’s information technology agency.
The search for a permanent CIO had gone on since Tim Robyn resigned in November 2015 , after less than three years on the job, leaving Kliethermes in charge of Missouri’s Information Technology Services Division. Kliethermes also took on the role of acting chief information security officer last month following the departure of Michael Roling .
Along with Gibson, Cheles has also held top IT jobs at semiconductor parts manufacturer MEMC and UnitedHealth Technologies. Most recently, he was the director of enterprise products at the healthcare software firm Centene Corporation. He has also been an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis. The Missouri position is his first government job.
“The state’s ITSD plays a critical role in the performance of Missouri state government,” Cheles said in a press release. “I’m ready to partner with State of Missouri leadership to identify ways to improve and modernize the state’s IT systems and capabilities while also continuing ITSD’s track record of innovation.”
Under Kliethermes, Missouri embarked on several modernization initiatives, including Medicaid applications, unemployment insurance and an offender management system for the state’s corrections department. In a 2017 interview with StateScoop , Kliethermes said he saw his then-office as one that needed to collaborate with other agencies.
“Obviously it does take communication, it takes reaching out, and it takes — even in difficult situations — pulling teams together,” he said. “But it has to happen, and you can be amazed at something that has drug on for an extended amount of time, or something that just seems to swirl, that when you get the right people in the room, you can get resolution very quickly.”
In praising Cheles’ appointment, Sarah Steelman, the commissioner of the Missouri Office of Administration, which includes ITSD, said the new CIO has a track record of improving organizations’ performances.
“He’s a strategic thinker who also has a proven history of finding and delivering creative technology solutions that make organizations perform better,” she said.