Vivek Kundra Resigning as Federal CIO

First Federal CIO to Become Fellow at Harvard in August
Vivek Kundra Resigning as Federal CIO
Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra will leave his job later this summer to become a fellow at Harvard University, the White House announced Thursday.

Kundra joined the Obama administration in March 2009 as administrator for e-government and IT in the White House Office of Management and Budget and given the additional title of chief information officer, the first person to officially hold that title.

Within a week of his appointment, the White House placed Kundra on leave - which lasted four days - after the FBI raided the Washington, D.C.'s Office of Chief Technology Officer, arresting for fraud a top information security officer who served under Kundra when he led the office, a post he vacated two weeks before becoming federal CIO. Kundra was not implicated in the fraud.

But that's about as controversial Kundra's tenure as federal CIO has gotten. From the get-go, Kundra was a champion of cloud computing, a technology he employed as D.C.'s CTO. Kundra sees cloud computing of driving efficiencies. "We must get rid of the waste and inefficiencies in our systems," he said last December in unveiling a plan to reform federal government information technology management that emphasizes secure data center consolidation and cloud computing. "Outdated technologies and information systems undermine our efficiency and threaten our security (see OMB Unveils Data Center Consolidation, Cloud Plan)."

And, in February, Kundra outlined a new policy in which one-quarter of the $80 billion the federal government spends on information technology would employ cloud computing solutions (see Kundra Eyes 25% of Fed IT Spend on Cloud Services). "Cloud computing can allow IT organizations to simplify, as they no longer have to maintain complex, heterogeneous technology environments,' he said. "Focus will shift from the technology itself to the core competencies and mission of the agency."

Another legacy of Kundra's term as federal CIO is the move by agencies to continuous monitoring of IT systems from the paper compliance rules required by the Federal Information Security Management Act. "It makes no sense why we wouldn't ask to get the data feeds coming in from these systems so that we could get a real-time dashboard of the U.S. government in terms of how vulnerable or secure we are," Kundra said (see Kundra Previews New FISMA Guidance).

Kundra maintains a good working relationship with lawmakers, as reflected in a statement issued by Sen. Thomas Carper, the Delaware Democrat, who chairs a Senate panel with government IT oversight, and characterized Kundra's departure as bittersweet: "On the one hand, I am happy for my friend Vivek to have this new opportunity and challenge; on the other hand, his leadership over the past two years in enhancing the federal government's transparency and technology efforts has been remarkable, and he will certainly be missed."

OMB Director Jack Lew, in announcing Kundra's resignation, said the departing CIO has delivered on his promises: "He has cracked down on wasteful IT spending, saved $3 billion in taxpayer dollars; moved the government to the cloud; strengthened the cybersecurity posture of the nation while making it more open, transparent, and participatory. His work has been replicated across the world from 16 countries that have deployed the model to tap into the ingenuity of their people to multiple countries that have deployed the IT dashboard to save money."

Kundra will move to Harvard in mid-August to serve as a joint fellow at the Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Also see these other articles about Kundra:

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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