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Vivek Kundra to be Obama's Chief Information Officer

Kim Hart

President Obama announced this morning that Vivek Kundra, currently the District of Columbia's Chief Technology Officer, will be the first Federal Chief Information Officer, a position Obama pledged to create during his campaign.


"Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position," Obama said in a press release. "I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."

Kundra's name has been mentioned in technology circles as a prime candidate for the job since he has experience in both private and public sectors. Before becoming DC's CTO, he was assistant secretary of commerce and trade as well as assistant secretary of technology for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. He also ran two start-ups. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and holds a master's degree in information technology from the University of Maryland.

As the CIO, Kundra will work closely with a yet-to-be-named Chief Technology Officer. It is still unclear what the CTO's job description will be, but Kundra will have budgetary authority over all information technology projects and E-government initiatives across government agencies.

The newly created CIO job most closely mirrors the job held previously by Karen Evans, whose title was Administrator for Electronic Government and Information Technology in the Office of Management and Budget.

For more specifics about how he oversaw the tech projects and budgets for 86 agencies in the DC government, take a look at this profile I wrote about him in January.

He has an interesting background: He was born in India and moved with his family to Tanzania at a young age. His family moved to Gaithersburg, Md., when he was 11 years old. His father is a teacher in the District.

Any thoughts on what his first priorities should be?

By Kim Hart  |  March 5, 2009; 9:45 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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I think Vivek's first priority will be the Open Government memo and outlining what agencies should be expected to do in relation to open, transparent, and participatory government. I've been discussing the issue a lot with govies on GovLoop.com and also have been part of the group using OMB's internal system to provide feedback. It's an interesting time and I think Vivek is up to the challenge.

Steve Ressler
Founder, GovLoop.com

Posted by: sressler | March 8, 2009 7:16 PM

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