Obama appoints federal CIO

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President Obama has appointed the first-ever federal chief information officer (CIO).

Vivek Kundra, 34, who formerly served in District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty's cabinet as the chief technology officer (CTO) was appointed to the position, the White House announced Thursday.

"Vivek Kundra's technology leadership has greatly contributed to the administration's essential priority of building transparency, accountability and efficiency in government," Mayor Fenty told SCMagazineUS.com Thursday in an email. "I'm confident he'll be an equally great asset to the Obama Administration."

One of Kundra's responsibilities will be to ensure information security and privacy across the federal government. He will also be responsible for overseeing federal technology spending, directing policy and planning for federal IT investments and overseeing government enterprise architecture.

He will work closely with a chief technology officer, who has not yet been named, to advance Obama's technology agenda. 

"Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position,” President Obama said, according to the White House news release.

Obama continued, “I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."

Robert Holleyman, CEO and president of the Business Software Alliance, told SCMagazineUS.com Thursday in an email that he applauds Kindra's appointment as the federal CIO.

“He is an extremely capable individual who really understands the power of technology to help solve the many challenges facing America,” Holleyman said. “He is keenly aware of how technology can provide the tools for making government run more efficiently and for increasing citizen access to information. We look forward to sharing our ideas and solutions with Mr. Kundra in the near future.”

David Stephenson, principal at e-government and enterprise 2.0 consulting firm Stephenson Strategies, told SCMagazineUS.com Thursday that Kundra is concerned with making government collaborative with the public.

“In terms of cybersecurity, he definitely is not only aware, but he is consistently on the cutting edge of innovation,” Stephenson, who is co-authoring the book called “Democratizing Data” with Kundra said. “I would be very confident that he's going to respect the need for privacy and security and at the same time.”

As CTO for the District of Columbia, Kundra was responsible for overseeing the technology operations for 86 agencies. Stephenson said that Kundra invited public and media scrutiny, invited watchdog groups to hold them accountable and encouraged government transparency.

Kundra previously held the position of assistant secretary of commerce and technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first dual cabinet role in the state's history. He graduated from the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and holds an MS in information technology from the University of Maryland.
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