RealTime IT News

Obama Names Federal Government's First CIO

Federal government

The White House has named Vivek Kundra to fill the position of chief information officer -- the first time such a position has existed under a presidential administration.

As federal chief information officer, Kundra, currently chief technology officer for Washington, D.C.'s city government, will be responsible for managing the government's entire technology portfolio and budget, and for overseeing its enterprise architecture.

In an official statement provided to InternetNews.com by the White House press office, President Obama praised Kundra's past work and approaches to managing the city's technology projects.

"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," he said. "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," Obama added.

Kundra will work with the as-yet-to-be-named federal chief technology officer to advance the administration's overall technology agenda -- portions of which, particularly when it comes to improving government communication and services online -- sync with his work as District CTO.

Adrian M. Fenty, D.C.'s mayor, named Kundra as the city's CTO in March 2007. There, he oversaw more than 600 employees, and provided technology services to its agencies and citizens.

Several of his efforts as D.C's CTO focused on making the District's government more accessible to citizens. One of those projects is the D.C. Data Catalog, an online repository of government data collected by the city on everything from building permits to criminal arrest reports.

Kundra also made great strides in increasing the cost-effectiveness of D.C.'s information technology investments, officials said, crediting him with radically changing his office's approach to management by using techniques from the financial industry.

Last June, Kundra told Public CIO Magazine that he manages technology projects like they are a stock portfolio, killing projects that underperform and consolidating smaller projects into related efforts.

[cob:Special_Report]While naming Kundra as CTO fills one key administration technology position, a second remains open -- yet widely discussed.

A number of candidates have been rumored as in the running for the CTO appointment, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Google's Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf. However, Schmidt has said publicly that he's not interested in the job.

But a White House spokesperson would not comment on the CTO nomination, saying only that there were no plans yet on an announcement.