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Government Innovator Q&A:
Whitney Phillips, State Privacy Officer, State of Utah

Whitney Phillips State Privacy Officer State of Utah

Meet Whitney Phillips, State Privacy Officer, State of Utah

Dr. Whitney Phillips was confirmed by the Utah Senate in December 2021 as the first State Privacy Officer.

Prior to serving in this role, she spent four years as the Utah State Board of Education’s first Chief Privacy Office, and has held a variety of prior positions in education and government.

Dr. Phillips is a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) and a Certified Information Privacy Professional for the U.S. (CIPP). She received her Ph.D. in Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation from Brigham Young University, specializing in longitudinal data analysis. 

Q1:

What is your favorite part of your role as a State Privacy Officer in Utah?

Answer: My favorite part of this role is how unique it is within the United States. There is a lot of work to be done to provide support to local government entities to increase their privacy maturity.

Q2:

Your Panel SessionIt is a Team Sport: How the Public Sector Can Combat Cybersecurity Risks will detail that leadership needs to involve the entire team in a strategy for preventing cyber intrusions. Is there one principal of this that is essential to your department? Can you explain why?

Answer: Having leadership support is essential to having a successful privacy and security program. This is because privacy and security is not owned by one person or department, but is a responsibility shared by all. Consequences to not mitigating risks to privacy and security may ultimately be felt by leadership in organization reputation and costs.

Q3:

What is the #1 mistake that you’ve seen government leaders make while planning executing cybersecurity programs? How can those who have made this mistake begin to rectify it?

Answer: One prevalent mistake is that security is an IT problem only.

Q4:

Is there a future project you’re working on at the Utah that you’re particularly excited about? What impact do you hope this will this project have on the agency & state at large?

Answer: I plan on working on a data destruction and minimization project to decrease risk across local government entities.  

Q5:

What advice would you give anyone who is considering a career in the public sector? 

Answer: I love working for the public sector. It is much more innovative and creative than I could have imagined. 

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