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Kansas IT chief quits after diploma questions

Academic credentials may not have been checked prior to hiring of Jim Mann this week

On Monday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced the appointment of a new state IT chief and press released about the move was posted on the state government Web site.

By late Tuesday, the press release was gone and so was the appointee, Jim Mann, 58, who resigned after questions arose about his college degree.

Mann had been hired as the state's chief information technology officer for a reported salary of $150,000. Mann was tasked with leading an IT consolidation drive.

In announcing the appointment, the governor touted Mann's management experience, including stints as CIO of Lawson Products Inc. and The Havi Group.

But it was the last line of the press release -- listing Mann's education history -- that stirred up controversy.

The state said that Mann had earned his bachelor in business administration from the University of Devonshire. The Topeka Capital-Journal subsequently reported that the University of Devonshire, in the UK, is a diploma mill.

After this report, the governor's office went on the defensive. Its spokesperson, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said in an email that "Mann's education did not play a factor in the decision to hire him."

"Jim Mann was hired based on his more than 20 years of top flight private sector experience," wrote Jones-Sontag. "Information technology is a constantly changing field where the best preparation is private sector experience one is able to bring to the table."

Jones-Sontag didn't respond to follow-up questions. But by late Tuesday, Kansas-based news outlets were publishing Mann's letter of resignation to the governor.

Mann did not return a call to his office Tuesday seeking comment.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov , or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

Read more about it in government in Computerworld's IT in Government Topic Center.

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