March 5, 2009 By Matt Williams
state CIOs is frustration with federal funding constraints that are at odds with this goal."
Kundra, 34, quickly made a name for himself in Washington, D.C., after just two years as the district's CTO, garnering recognition for deploying hosted solutions like Google Apps; organizing an open source software development contest called Apps for Democracy that challenged the district's citizens to develop mash-up applications from publicly available data; and releasing real-time data feeds on the district's Web portal.
Kundra also started a unique IT portfolio management model that tracks Washington, D.C., projects like investments in the stock market.
"We use that [stock] data to decide whether to hold on to the project, invest more or kill it -- similar to what portfolios in a private market would do as far as sell, buy or hold," Kundra told Government Technology in July. "That's brought a lot of scrutiny and moved us aggressively in terms of killing projects that won't deliver."
But Kundra made it clear Thursday he would also be working on issues beyond citizen-facing applications. "We also want to focus on, 'How do we look at these back-end systems, whether that's in the Department of Defense, or whether that's Health and Human Services, and ensure that information technology -- that we're having a holistic view of it, and not focusing purely on e-government."
Video: Vivek Kundra, CTO of Washington D.C., describes how Web 2.0 tools are improving procurement for the city government.
Kundra's focus on efficient spending could be attractive to the Obama administration as it attempts to eliminate waste from the federal budget amid a ballooning $10 trillion national deficit and what many economists expect will be a protracted recession.
"[Kundra] is a very smart person, who combines counter-intuitive visions with the ability to execute and maintain support from his political and business leaders," said Andrea Di Maio, an analyst for Gartner. "In such challenging times, with budget issues, a daunting task to monitor and measure the outcome of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a recent call by the president to review relationships with federal contractors, the desire to socialize information and engage all stakeholders on line, Vivek will be immediately confronted with a tough prioritization task."
At least two other Obama appointees -- national CTO and cyber-security czar who are yet to be named -- will have significant impact on state and local IT operations.
The national CTO will influence how the country develops its digital infrastructure, said Khanna. In particular, that post could be crucial in treating federal, state and local IT systems as a continuum -- not separate entities. The cyber-security czar could have a similar impact on the federal government's approach to IT security by viewing state, local and federal systems as one "technology ecosystem" instead of separate parts, Khanna said.
Obama has filled neither the CTO nor cyber-security posts. Beth Simone Noveck, a law professor at New York Law School, and Padmasree Warrior, CTO for Cisco Systems, are among those rumored to be in line for the CTO post. In February, Obama asked Melissa Hathaway -- a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant -- to review the security of federal computer systems. There is speculation that Hathaway will be appointed to the cyber-security position.
Kundra was just named to Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for his accomplishments as Washington, D.C., CTO.
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