Will Vivek Kundra’s Departure Affect Government’s Flight to the Clouds?
The online world is abuzz with news of the planned departure of the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) the US has ever had, and some have expressed fears that this may slow down the government’s aggressive adoption of cloud computing that Vivek Kundra had been heading since he took office two years ago.
It’s no secret that I, along with most proponents of cloud computing, am an avid supporter of Kundra. Consequently, I have written several articles featuring this young technophile and his efforts to revamp the bloated IT infrastructure in government. A list of them is provided below:
However, after two and a half years in the Obama administration, Kundra has decided to heed the call of academia and accept a position at Harvard as a joint fellow at the John F. Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Last week, the Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew, who reported to Kundra, released the following statement: “When he began at the White House, he brought with him the promise of good ideas and a hard-charging style focused on getting things done, necessary qualities to tackle the difficult issues facing federal IT – an aging infrastructure with rising operating costs, too many major projects failing to deliver, and increasing vulnerability to outside threats. Two and a half years after joining the Administration, Vivek has delivered on that promise.”
What Kundra achieved has already been covered in previous articles; whether that work will continue to develop is the matter under consideration. While Kundra did face considerable opposition for his aggressive downsizing measures, President Obama’s support and the tangible benefits of Kundra’s recommendations made him a success. And, according to most experts, the ball he set rolling will continue to roll.
“Vivek provided the federal community with a straightforward vision for streamlining the delivery of service improvements across the federal sector and a refreshing resolve to move federal agencies in that direction. His legacy of defining incremental improvements and managing project teams to meeting identified goals should and likely will continue due to the momentum that he has created,” said Jerry Williams, CIO of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“He’s helped shape the ecology by which good ideas are able to distill themselves and spread across the US government. There’s quite a bit of stickiness in the reforms Vivek has put in place. Many government agencies are continuing to execute on those things through measured, deliberate reviews of their progress,” said Bernie Mazer, CIO of the Department of Interior.
“Although Vivek is moving on to new challenges, the work he championed over the last two and half years remains and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to get better technology results for taxpayers’ money,” said Senator Tom Carper, an enthusiastic supporter of IT reform.
While it’s likely that Kundra’s 25-point Cloud Strategy will continue to be adhered to, fate of future development depends on his successor’s belief in the possibilities of cloud computing. As someone from the corporate world remarked, “Often, when a strong and creative political appointee like Kundra leaves government service, the career staff fall back to their old ways.” It’s up to the next Federal CIO to ensure that it doesn’t happen. With Obama’s support, that seems likely.
By Sourya Biswas