U.S. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra Throws In the Towel

by Sam Dean - Jun. 17, 2011Comments (1)

All the way back in March of 2009, OStatic took note of the appointment of the first-ever federal CIO for the United States, Vivek Kundra. Well-versed in open source technologies, Kundra promised to overhaul the way the government deployed and managed its technology, with a special focus on decreasing costs. He did much of what he promised, and that's part of why it is a surprise to find that he is resigning his position after only two and a half years on the job. There isn't a great deal of information about why Kundra is resigning, although he is reportedly taking a position at Harvard University. Here is more on what Kundra did, and why he may be leaving.

Born in Delhi, India, raised in Tanzania, and a fluent Swahili speaker, Kundra has a very diverse background. As Wikipedia noted back when Kundra oversaw technology deployments for the government in Washington D.C., "he has been recognized for his work in developing programs to spur open source and crowd sourced applications using publicly accessible Web services from the District of Columbia."

During his time as federal CIO, an appointment he got shortly after President Obama took office, he pursued cloud computing and open source-focused agendas for improving federal technology deployments, and decreasing costs. As recently as April of this year, we took note of two open source tools called IT Dashboard and TechStat that Kundra oversaw the development of as well as releasing them for public availability. According to Kundra, the tools led to over $3 billion of cost savings in the U.S. government.

The successes that Kundra had raise questions about why he is leaving, as Computerworld notes:

"...There may be questions over why Kundra is leaving six months after releasing a 25-point plan that crystalized a lot of his ideas. One of the major components of the plan was the consolidation of more than 2,100 data centers to 800 by 2015."

We probably won't get direct answers about why Kundra is quitting, but it wouldn't be a surprise to find that bureaucratic and political obstacles to executing his vision played a part. Kundra's ideas for U.S. handling of technology were fairly radical, with a heavy emphasis on open source.

The U.S. government is working to find a new CIO. It would be good to see the successor bring the kind of open source sensibility to the job that Kundra did.

Khürt Williams uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


It is interesting to see how open source and cloud computing can meet with the requirements of: 1) standard languages such as Ada and MUMPS, 2) C2 (Common Criteria) certification for trust-computing, and 3) cyber security for DoD and NSA (No Such Agency - National Security Agency).

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