President Barack Obama appointed 34 year-old IT wunderkind Vivek Kundra Chief Information Officer for the Federal government Thursday, heralding a new era of secure, open, and efficient government, the likes of which have never been seen on Capitol Hill.
Kundra comes to the Obama administration from his position as Chief Technology Officer for the city of Washington, DC, where he led a staff of over 600 IT workers serving 86 agencies and 38,000 employees.
Kundra produced results in DC by pushing for transparency for citizens, utilizing commercial solutions and cloud computing to open up government systems and data for external software developers to use, creating online applications to improve citizen access to government.
“One of the biggest problems in the federal government is that process has trumped outcome,” Kundra remarks in the video accompanying this post. “And the biggest reason…is that everybody is focused on compliance and nobody is thinking about innovation and how to drive change within the government…” He pledged to use his position to “innovate and find better ways of bringing services lowering the cost of government operations and driving transparency.”
It’s hard to envy Kundra, who, much like his boss, inherits a broken, impossibly entrenched bureaucracy filled with civil service lifers and deadwood antithetical to nothing so much as change itself. But he will also have a lot of resources at his disposal and carries a mandate for change from both the Oval Office and the electorate.
Nothwithstanding where one’s interests may lie in the political spectrum, everyone with an interest in technology will be watching to see the transformational effects wrought by the Obama administration and its new “Get Things Done” CIO.