One of state government’s longest-serving IT executives is retiring. Tennessee CIO Mark Bengel, who has been with the state since 2004, is transitioning out of his role, StateScoop confirmed on Monday.
Bengel joined Tennessee state government as its chief technology officer, was promoted to deputy CIO and was appointed as CIO under then-Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2007. Now set to retire at the end of the year, Bengel is shifting to an advisory role and will be replaced by his deputy, Stephanie Dedmon.
Dedmon, whose first day as CIO was Monday, according to Government Technology, joined Tennessee in 2005 as the director of Project Edison, the state’s consolidated enterprise resource planning system. She moved on to become the state’s director of business solutions delivery before becoming deputy CIO in 2016.
Since then, she has worked alongside Bengel to continue modernization of the state’s IT infrastructure, applications and staff, a sweeping initiative that continues today.
Among the most recent projects under Tennessee’s information technology division, called Strategic Technology Solutions, is a citizen-centric app that strives to provide users a single portal for all state government transactions and information searches.
Speaking at the National Association of State Technology Directors annual conference last year, Bengel said the app could gather 324 citizen-facing agencies and provide a digital interface for more than 1,000 government services. He also said the work Tennessee is doing in digital government might be worth copying elsewhere.
“I think we’re pretty close to creating the wheel,” Bengel said. “… This is where we ultimately need to end up. We’re going to look like dinosaurs if we don’t do it.”
Bengel is credited with encouraging the state’s executive leaders to create policies that modernize, standardize and consolidate IT, and then led the projects that realized those policies. Last year, Bengel was invited by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers to share his success in state government IT with his counterparts from around the country at an annual conference in Austin.
But in reflecting on his decade with the state and the advancements in technology that time brought, Bengel said the people he works with represent Tennessee IT’s greatest achievement.
“[CIOs] come and go. We try to move the ball forward, but it’s you that actually have to do the work — or you have to deal with the aftermath after we’ve been marched out,” Bengel told the NASTD audience. “The reality though is that the success isn’t mine — it belongs to my team. I think I have one of the best teams I’ve had in my career.”