Everybody knows that all desis are either doctors or engineers. Today the White House managed to gain an engineer, Vivek Kundra, as the new White House CIO and “lose” a doctor, Sanjay Gupta, who pulled out of contention for the Surgeon General’s position.
But don’t worry, DBD’s, his globe trotting youth hasn’t led him to forget where he came from. In 2007 he assembled the largest US trade delegation ever to visit India. Not bad for a guy who is only 34!
In just 19 months with the District, Mr. Kundra has moved to post city contracts on YouTube and to make Twitter use common in his office and others. He hopes to allow drivers to pay parking tickets or renew their driver’s licenses on Facebook. [link]
He will oversee $71 billion in annual technology spending across the government and set standards for the design of federal systems. [He said that] government needs to stop thinking it is special.Instead of designing custom systems for each problem, it should use off-the-shelf software and approaches whenever possible. [link]
Right now the federal government relies on extensive custom built systems, generated by expensive private contractors who make a lot of money, and sometimes leave the government with systems that are years behind schedule, over budget, and don’t even work (like the IRS computer upgrade). Moving towards off the shelf systems, when possible, will avoid a lot of that and produce more modern, robust, computing solutions.
But what you really care about isn’t the computer geek, it’s the former Sexiest Man Alive, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Gupta withdrew his name from consideration for the Surgeon General’s position today, saying “It’s not you, it’s me” and “I’m just not in the right place in my life for what you’re offering.”
“This is more about my family and my surgical career,” …The neurosurgeon said he would likely have had to give up practicing had he taken the job as the nation’s top doctor.
In addition, the 39-year-old and his wife are expecting their third daughter any time, and the government job would have meant long periods away from his family, he said. “I think, for me, it really came down to a sense of timing more than anything else,” he said. “I just didn’t feel I should do that now.” [link]
p>I’m not surprised by this. I got the feeling that he and Daschle were chosen as a team, with Gupta playing the Diana Ross to Daschle’s Berry Gordy, or more accurately playing Ronnie Spector to Daschle’s Phil Spector.
p>In other words, Gupta was to be the front man, the charmer, the one to sell Obama’s health reforms to the general public, while Daschle made certain they would get through Congress. Without Daschle, his role was put in jeopardy.
one source close to him said he was very disheartened by Daschle’s fate and fearful he was not going to get a prominent role in the health-reform process. [link]
p>I suspect Gupta was asked not to withdraw until a new HHS candidate was chosen, so as not to cause embarrassment.
p>Of course, Gupta would also have lost a lot of money if he had become Surgeon General. In addition to his CNN salary, he controversially accepts speaking fees of $30,000-50,000 for addressing groups including drug companies. (This also would have been a problem for Gupta during his confirmation hearings, given the administration’s position towards lobbyists and how most health journalists wont take outside money)
p>I think, in the end, it was more about the politics than the money. At age 39, Gupta had plenty of years left to make oodles of cash. And if the money was so important, he would have stopped the Obama administration from confirming that he was their front runner (he was never formally selected), since the money issue was clear all along.
p>My guess is that the position was no longer attractive enough to compensate for the risks involved with leaving his comfortable position at CNN. And, who knows, Gupta might be the first politician to say that he wanted to spend more time with his family and actually mean it!
p>p.s. I predicted Gupta’s refusal over a month ago, although for the wrong reasons.