November 20, 2008 By Matt Williams
Buzz is growing among insiders that Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer of Washington, D.C., is advising President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.
Kundra's portfolio of work appears to complement a goal in Obama's technology agenda to "use cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for America's citizens." Of course, Kundra's close proximity to the U.S. Capitol doesn't hurt.
Kundra declined comment Wednesday about his rumored involvement with the Obama administration.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed Kundra the District of Columbia's CTO in March 2007, and Kundra has quickly made a name for himself as an innovator who is unafraid of new ideas.
Last week, Kundra and Fenty announced winners of the district's Apps for Democracy contest, which challenged participants to design open source applications that integrate data from the D.C. Data Catalog, information that's released in real time by several government agencies. Fenty said last week the contest would save Washington, D.C., millions of dollars in software development costs.
"The greater part here is the democratization of public data, and the engagement of citizens, and the engagement of the private sector to help us drive innovation and leverage the power of technology," Kundra said at last week's Apps for Democracy press conference.
Kundra has also gained recognition for his use of hosted applications like Google Mail and his unique IT portfolio management model that tracks 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."
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.
It's unknown if Kundra is on the list of candidates for the new position of national chief technology officer, which is prescribed in Obama's technology agenda. Several high-profile names have been floated for the job, including two from Google: Vint Cerf, the company's chief Internet evangelist, and CEO Eric Schmidt.
Watch video of Vivek Kundra discussing how Web 2.0 tools can aid procurement.
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