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Federal CIO Vivek Kundra to Step Down

First U.S. CIO to take joint fellowship at Harvard University in August.

Vivek Kundra, the first federal CIO appointed by the White House to lead the nation’s technology initiatives, will step down at the end of the summer to pursue a fellowship at Harvard University, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced Thursday, June 16.

Kundra is expected to join Harvard in mid-August where he will serve as a joint fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, according to the OMB.

President Barack Obama appointed Kundra to the position in 2009. The administration credits Kundra with saving taxpayers at least $3 billion by scrutinizing IT spending and identifying underperforming projects.

Under Kundra’s watch, the federal government also launched, implemented a dashboard for federal IT projects, and mandated a “Cloud First” policy that requires federal agencies to look at cloud-based technologies in procurements. Kundra also pushed for a plan that will significantly reduce the 2,000-plus data centers currently run by individual agencies.

Some federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have started to follow Kundra’s lead by taking the necessary steps to move to the cloud. was launched in 2009 to enable more robust government transparency. Later that same year, Kundra announced the relaunch of, a federal dashboard that reflects agency investments. Kundra was a leading driver behind the project, and like the site was aimed at improving transparency.

As more data was posted online, the OMB also took a more direct approach to reviewing IT projects and terminating stalled procurements. Kundra’s “TechStat Accountability Sessions” implemented periodic face-to-face meetings with agency heads about their IT portfolio, with an emphasis on finding solutions to improved performance.

Before the White House recruited Kundra to become the nation’s top technology official, he served as CTO of Washington D.C. for then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. While in office, Kundra helped establish the D.C. Data Catalog, a platform for citizens to have access to nearly 500 data sets. Kundra also worked to put in the foundation for a prize contest in Washington, D.C., called Apps for Democracy [], which challenged citizen programmers to mash-up government data in interesting ways. The contest model was emulated by several large city governments across the nation.

This story has been updated.


Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.
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