Montana’s tech chief departs for consulting role

After seven years as Montana's chief technology officer, Matt Van Syckle is heading to a consulting firm started by another former state tech official.
Matt Van Syckle. (Contributed)

Montana Chief Technology Officer Matt Van Syckle is exiting state government after 17 years for a job with a consulting firm that specializes in helping state governments, he told StateScoop on Friday.

Van Syckle started with Montana’s State Information Technology Services Division as a tech team lead in June 2007 before serving as supervisor of enterprise infrastructure services from 2014 to 2017 and being appointed CTO in 2017. He briefly served as interim statewide chief information officer in 2018 after Ron Baldwin left the role and was later that year replaced by Tim Bottenfield.

On Monday, Van Syckle will start as the vice president of national strategy at KWR Strategies, a firm founded by former Texas CIO Karen Robinson.

“I think that the biggest thing that I learned really was asking the right questions around what funding is available and what can it be used for and finding ways to meet the business need of using that funding — everywhere from federal funding, state funding, one-time only state funding — and really making sure that every available dollar is used to its absolute fullest extent to deliver the business value,” he said.


During his time as CTO, Van Syckle oversaw a team of engineers and the efforts to ensure a successful “work-from-anywhere” policy for state government employees, which included automating Montana’s cybersecurity processes and instating a zero-trust architecture.

“The part that makes the team that I worked with so unique is that there really isn’t one project that stands out because the team was able to accomplish so much over the last seven years. I think the big thing is their ability to continue to iterate and improve,” Van Syckle said. “What really what stands out to me is it wasn’t just upgrade at once and be done. It was continuous.”

Van Syckle said he hopes that efforts to include agencies and business users that are located outside of the capitol city aren’t forgotten.

“I think that’s really the future in in all states, but just with how big Montana is, there’s a lot of interaction that happens with the citizens outside of the capitol. And it’s always making sure that every technology we deliver delivers the right value at the right time for lots of people outside of Helena,” he said.

Van Syckle said that Katelyn Schaub, who currently serves as the application technology services bureau chief at the state’s Department of Administration, will take over as interim CTO until a permanent replacement is named.


In his new role, Van Syckle will continue working with state governments.

“The biggest thing is being able to work with a lot of my what were peers across the nation and other states. I’m really excited to do that,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave state and local government, I wanted to stay in that vertical. I’m just excited I was able to find a great role and a great company where I can continue to do that and collaborate with other states.”

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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