President Obama on Thursday named Vivek Kundra, Washington, D.C.'s chief technology officer, to the position of federal chief information officer.
Kundra, who has served as a technology policy adviser for President Obama, will be responsible for coordinating the use of information technology and IT spending across government agencies, as well as creating more government efficiency through information sharing while maintaining sound security and privacy practices. Ahead of the announcement, an administration official confirmed Kundra's new role to CNET News following a report in the Washington Post.
In a statement, President Obama said: "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. 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."
In 2007, Kundra was appointed as Washington's CTO, a position in which he has overseen a staff of 600 and 86 agencies. As CTO of the federal district, he has been praised for making Washington's bureaucratic system more efficient and transparent through the use of technology, including applications from Google and Apple. Kundra has also been able to encourage the development of the city's tech sector, according to the Washington business community.
"He's charismatic and smart," Steve Moore, the president and CEO of the Washington, D.C., Economic Partnership, told CNET News in an interview earlier this year. "He's a constant adviser for us on technology and what our priorities should be."
Before becoming CTO of Washington, D.C., Kundra served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the state of Virginia, where his role was to use technology to maximize government efficiency and business opportunities in the state--for instance, by developing a dashboard that used business intelligence to increase citizen participation in state procurement. He also assembled the largest United States trade delegation ever to visit India.
Kundra also has experience in the private sector. He served as vice president of marketing for the identity management company Evincible Software, and advised clients on IT governance as CEO of Creostar.
The president is also expected to name a federal CTO, another new position that has generated much speculation. Though the position has not yet been filled, the president has already tasked the CTO with the job of devising a plan to make the administration more Internet-friendly. The official will have until late May to finish the plan.
Watch Washington, D.C.'s "tech czar" Vivek Kundra in January explain how cell phones will work during the Inauguration and what techonology safety precautions have been taken: