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North Dakota information technology chief resigns for private sector job

Gov. Doug Burgum said North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley is a "transformational leader" who facilitated the work-from-home shift during the COVID-19 pandemic and guided the state's progress in technology and cybersecurity.

Shawn Riley was appointed North Dakota's chief information officer in March 2017. Photo provided by Gov. Doug Burgum's office.
Shawn Riley will step down as North Dakota's chief information officer later this year.
Photo provided by Gov. Doug Burgum's office
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley will leave his post in December to pursue an executive position at a crypto mining company, according to an announcement from Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Burgum tapped Riley for the top job at the state's Information Technology Department in March 2017, making him one of the longest serving cabinet members. The Republican governor said Riley is a "transformational leader" who facilitated the work-from-home shift during the COVID-19 pandemic and guided the state's progress in technology and cybersecurity.

Riley, who worked remotely from Minnesota for part of his tenure, touted his department's accomplishments in his resignation letter, saying that North Dakota is the "undisputed national leader" in cybersecurity.

"I am in awe in what has been accomplished across our teams," Riley said. "We have broken the stereotypes of what 'state workers' can do and have shattered expectations for technology in government."

The Information Technology Department (ITD) is responsible for serving state government's technology needs. The agency has a two-year budget of about $275 million.

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The department caught criticism last month after Forum News Service revealed that agency officials waited months to bring in an outside firm to help recoup former Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s deleted emails.

In his new job, Riley will work as the CEO of American operations for Bitzero International, a cypto mining company that agreed earlier this year to redevelop a pyramid-shaped former missile site in Nekoma, North Dakota, into a high-powered data center.

ITD Deputy CIO Greg Hoffman will serve as the department's interim chief during the search to fill the position. Hoffman has worked for ITD since 2005.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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