Vivek Kundra’s popularity continues to be a bit of a mystery to me. As the first US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra appointed by President Obama, Kundra began the process of shaping a public policy for the use of technology in government intended to integrate and modernize the federal government agencies. But he is also the federal CIO which brought us the MEanderthal mobile app.
In his role as Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra received the most attention and recognition for the IT Dashboard, Data.gov and the IT reform strategy for the federal government which includes the Cloud First Policy. Personally I think these are great initiatives and I found Kundra’s IT strategy to be a good example for other CIO’s to emulate.
Kundra’s strategy was well balanced on the big issues the federal CIO should care about: the priorities of the White House and President Obama, enabling the public policy of transparency, and homeland security. But most of the strategy was focused on creating new efficiencies and cutting waste through shared services, cloud computing, data center consolidation, federal procurement policy, and tighter project management.
But Vivek Kundra has since left his post as federal CIO and has moved into the private sector. On his way out the door Kundra shared his thoughts on the barriers to real improvement in federal government IT even going so far as to comment on the IT Cartels influence on IT procurement policy in the federal government.
So it now seems odd that Vivek Kunra is accepting speaking engagements to share the story of his success as federal CIO. As the keynote for AFCOM Data Center World the bio for Vivek Kundra reads:
“Vivek Kundra was appointed as the first United States Chief Information Officer by President Obama and is credited with saving over $3 billion dollars in taxpayer dollars, adopting game changing technologies in the public sector…”
Now $3 billion is not chump change and every bit counts, but in a combined federal IT budget of approximately $80 billion that’s not even 4% over roughly two years. Moreover, federal IT spending was already being cut indirectly by the agenda of President Obama and other changes occurring in the federal government civilian agency and defense spending. There’s not a CIO out there that can’t produce a 4% savings over two years whether you work for the White House or your local school district.
But I suppose the thing that bothers me most is I think the tech media needs to serve its journalistic role and scrutinize federal IT instead of ignoring the real news. In my mind this is akin to sports reporters covering the box scores while ignoring the uglier issues. After all MEanderthal isn’t the only federal IT ‘bridge to nowhere’ and more should be done to question President Obama and the federal CIO on the merits of these projects.