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Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed Jim Kurtenchbach as director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services. He will take the position effective July 1.

Kurtenbach served as chief information officer (CIO) at Iowa State and associate dean of the College of Engineering and is an associate professor of accounting.

Controversy surrounded Kurtenbach’s appointment as CIO. He was appointed to a permanent position as CIO without a formal job search by the university.

Furthermore, Kurtenbach had served as the flight instructor for then-Iowa State President Steven Leath. Leath had faced questions for his use of university-owned aircraft for personal and business use, causing at least $12,000 in damages to one in 2015. An audit later found Leath had used university-owned planes for personal purposes on at least 52 occasions.

Leath said at the time his last flight lesson with Kurtenbach was shortly after Kurtenbach had returned to Iowa State in his interim CIO role. After determining there may be a conflict of interest due to their professional positions, their lessons ended.

In his role as CIO, Kurtenbach oversaw the restructuring of Iowa State’s information technology services. The overhaul saw the elimination of 23 positions, while a further 19 employees were paid to not work as a result of contractual obligations preventing their immediate termination, The Gazette reported at the time.

The governor’s office said in a press release Kurtenbach’s appointment is an “important step in assembling a proven team to carry out [Reynolds’] priorities for Iowa.”

Kurtenbach said it is an honor to serve Iowa in his new role, according to the press release.

“At the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, I will continue to build upon Iowan’s expectations for transparency, accessibility, and assistance at every level,” Kurtenbach said.

Kurtenbach was elected as a Republican to the Iowa House of Representatives, serving from 2003 to 2007 and served as co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa until 2011.

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