By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt named an executive from his former company on Wednesday to head up the state’s budget and technology office.

Stitt announced the appointment of Steven Harpe as director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The state agency functions as Oklahoma’s human resources department, handling duties like state finance, employee benefits and information technology.

Harpe previously worked as chief information officer at Gateway Mortgage Group, the Jenks-based company Stitt founded, before joining Stitt’s administration. He was working as deputy director at OMES and also had served on the Board of Corrections.

Harpe replaces John Budd, who will transition to a separate role as the governor’s chief operating officer, which Stitt described as an “agency-oversight role.”

“When changes took place at OMES, he (Budd) was generous to step into the agency and led it during a critical time while also juggling the role as chief operating officer,” Stitt said in a statement.

Stitt founded Gateway Mortgage Group in 2000 and grew it into a national mortgage company with more than 1,200 employees. After he was elected governor in 2018, the state’s attorney general approved Stitt’s plan to separate from the company, which later became Gateway First Bank.

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