Sysop-in-chief leaving Whitehouse

Sources: Kundra leaving White House:

Vivek Kundra, the first-ever federal chief information officer, is planning to leave the White House in August, according to sources.

Kundra, who has held the position for two-and-a-half years, is leaving the administration for Harvard, the sources said, although it’s unclear if he’ll be teaching or taking a more research-oriented post.

As CIO in the Office of Management and Budget, Kundra was responsible for overseeing $80 billion in federal information technology projects. In that role, he spearheaded a number of initiatives to try to make the government’s complex technology systems more efficient and less costly.

Kundra is one of three White House officials tapped to revamp the government’s use of technology. President Barack Obama also appointed Aneesh Chopra as the federal chief technology officer and Jeffrey Zients as the chief performance officer. All three positions were brand new roles in the White House.

I’m a little behind in the curve when it comes to these sorts of things, but technically I think Kundra would be an “information architect.” I imagine the architects to be the officer corps of the systems administrators, who are the grunts.

According to Google Trends there hasn’t been any news out of this guy for a while….which is usually a good thing if you’re a systems administrator! It’s kind of like being an offensive line guy in football, if people are noticing you it’s probably not a good thing (e.g., there’s been a major security breach and you have to take the fall for it). I’m personally skeptical of the “cloud computing” initiative Kundra spearheaded, for national security reasons. I wouldn’t ever put anything sensitive in Dropbox, and I don’t care how good the feds think they are, hackers will worm their way into their “lockbox” in the cloud at some point. But Vivek Kundra doesn’t have to worry about it, some other command-line jockey will take the fall for it….

4 thoughts on “Sysop-in-chief leaving Whitehouse

  1. so two people resign today:

    one of them aimed, cocked, and blew us away with a shot…

    the other aimed then blew a shot of his cock

  2. Kundra is neither information architect nor systems administrator – both of those are technical positions that mean getting your hands dirty.. An architect designs in some detail the technical aspects of a systems design – typically a glorified computer programmer. Kundras is a management position so he was Chief Information Officer. I was worried about cloud computing used by the government. But if used properly, it should work fine. No system is impregnable and the private companies probably have far more robust security than some government outfits.(Wikileaks leaks for ex). Anyway, according to the article, all top secret info will be handled by the government itself.

  3. razib, you missed this one bad. Your comments reminds me of the time when I was dealing with these high-falutin physicists, ostensibly to find topics to collaborate on. On learning that my group consisted of phd computer scientists, the senior physicist got all excited and wanted to know if we would code their fortran programs for them :-)

    Kundra is a technology strategist who has defined an architecture and 5-10 year goals for govt web sites. His idea has been to get govt information systems to the point where you can (securely) search and interact with all of your personal and related public information. This means social security, irs, medicare, medicaid, disability, state dept and so on. He has really pushed hard to moving towards using the cloud as well. A side benefit of all this work is that states are also following along closely – as the feds define technologies and profile standards – the states are able to pick it up quickly as well.

    I am personally very sorry to see him leave. He is also a great speaker. I assume he is going to some place like the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

  4. I remember reading sometime back that Kundra’s mandate was to streamline all IT in the federal govt and make information available to people in a easy accessible way. Not sure how much progress he made towards this end, since his tenure was kind of short and these things take time to implement. I think he must have set the vision and the execution is the key. But I have seen that in large scale projects when the new head honcho comes in generally there is a significant change in direction and people and there is a big setback in time. Interesting to see how it goes. I am also curious why he is leaving.