President Barack Obama stirred the proverbial IT pot last week, with candid remarks regarding his poor opinion of federal technology. But federal CIO Vivek Kundra defended the president’s take on the issue, particularly as it relates to IT purchasing.
“The president is absolutely right. When we came into office, federal IT was undeniably broken,” said Kundra in a statement that was e-mailed to Government Technology. “These problems weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight.”
The president, unaware that a microphone from a CBS News reporter was still live, sounded off on federal IT at a Chicago fundraiser on April 14. He noted that he expected “cool phones” and “fancy buttons” that would lead to big screens when he came into office. Obama also called federal IT purchasing “horrible,” complaining about outdated equipment in various federal agencies.
Kundra agreed, noting his office is focused on new models of IT implementation to improve the purchasing process.
“That’s why we are aggressively cracking down on wasteful IT spending and turning around poorly performing projects,” Kundra said. “From consolidating data centers and moving to the cloud, we’re closing the technology gap between private and public sectors.”
Presidential concern about the state of federal IT isn’t new. The Washington Post reported that in his memoir, President George W. Bush took note that Air Force One was poorly equipped to handle communications to the White House during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.