Topeka attorney Mark Burghart sought affirmation Thursday of his nomination by Gov. Laura Kelly to serve as secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue.
Burghart worked on state and federal tax cases in private practice for 25 years and previously served eight years as an attorney in the Kansas revenue department.
"I believe because of my prior government and private experience, I can bring a new perspective to the position of secretary that would help improve processes at the department," he said. "I'm eager to address any challenges."
During the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee's confirmation hearing, Burghart said the agency was conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the tax department's operations, including decisions by previous administrations to enter no-bid contracts for information technology services.
Among contracts approved by former Secretary Sam Williams were a pair of 10-year deals valued at $110 million with CGI Technologies. In February, Kelly's interim revenue secretary said CGI had failed in October to deliver software for processing Kansas' tax returns. The revenue dealt with 2018 returns by relying on existing older technology.
"The elephant in the room is the no-bid contract," said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. "What steps are you going to be taking to both clarify what happened and, secondly, what you will be doing going forward and what kinds of administrative procedures and oversight you're going to be providing?"
Burghart said the CGI deals were undergoing a rigorous analysis, but the department was in the process of reviewing a range of business agreements.
"As a new administrator, I believe it's incumbent on me to exercise due diligence what the current status of those agreements are and whether they're in the best interests of the state of Kansas and make adjustments where appropriate," Burghart said.
He said introduction of the state's new driver's license system was going well. A new process for scheduling appointments with an examiner will be implemented this summer in metropolitan areas, he said.
Burghart earned a business degree from University of Kansas and a law degree at Washburn University. In his career, Burghart served companies of all sizes and represented taxpayers before state and federal tax officials.
The Senate committee didn't vote on Burghart's nomination due to absence of Sen. Caryn Tyson, the GOP committee chair.