Fed CIO: Guilt By Association?

Vivek Kundra's action that might cost him his job as the federal chief information officer isn't that he necessarily did anything illegal indeed, no such allegations have been made but his association with a subordinate who was arrested last week on bribery charges.

After resigning his post a week earlier as Washington, D.C.'s chief technology officer to become the Obama administration's CIO, Kundra saw a top aide in the city's technology office charged on Thursday with fraud.

Authorities arrested Yusuf Acar, the district's information systems security officer, who allegedly stashed $70,000 in cash at his home. Officials also arrested and charged with bribery Sushil Bansal, chief executive of the Advanced Integrated Technologies, which has provided various district agencies with IT services and equipment for the past five years. Upon Acar's arrest, Kundra took a leave of absence as federal CIO.

The arrest of Acar, who rose through the ranks of the Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) under Kundra, is raising questions in Washington about Kundra's ability to effectively manage a large IT bureaucracy. Still, the problems facing OCTO aren't isolated to one city office. A culture that allows individual managers a lot of influence in determining who gets city contracts isn't isolated to OCTO; it's a situation that has occurred throughout the district government. As a 2007 Government Accountability Office audit pointed out:

"The district's procurement system does not incorporate a number of generally accepted key principles and practices for protecting taxpayer resources from fraud, waste and abuse. Specifically, the district lacks a comprehensive procurement law that applies to all district entities over which the CPO (chief purchasing officer) has sole procurement authority and promotes competition; an organizational alignment that empowers its procurement leadership; an adequately trained acquisition and contracting workforce; and the technology and tools to help managers and staff make well-informed acquisition decisions."

Kundra has a reputation of encouraging transparency when he was the district's CTO - a reputation that fits nicely with efforts by the Obama administration to give citizens more access to important government information over the Internet. As more details of the Acar case becomes public, the fate of Kundra the champion of government openness or a leader blind to the action's of a subordinate-could also be determined.

National Science Foundation Seeks Game-Changing IT Security Ideas

2009 a leap year? It is for the National Science Foundation, which is looking for game-changing ideas to help the nation leap ahead in finding workable solutions to secure the nation's critical IT infrastructure.

The Foundation, through its National Coordination Office for Networking Information Technology Research and Development, seeks "a few revolutionary ideas with the potential to reshape the landscape," according to its posting in the Federal Register.

In seeking game-changing concepts, the Foundation asks those submitting ideas to explain them in terms of a game. As an example, the Foundation titled one concept "Morph the Gameboard" to make it harder for attackers to maneuver and achieve their goals. An example of "Morph the Gameboard" a non-persistent virtual machine in which "every time the attacker a bill, the hill goes away."

Among the areas the Foundation is seeking ideas: cyber economics, disaster recovery, network ecology, policy-based configuration/implementation, secure data, software assurance and virtualization.

For more information, go to www.nitrd.gov/leapyear or write to leapyear@nitrd.gov.

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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