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Archive for February 6th, 2009

The Kundra appointment: What does it mean?

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Reports all over the place — kudos to Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller and to NextGov’s Gautham Nagesh — confirming what we told you earlier this week — that DC CTO Vivek Kundra will be named the next administrator of e-government and information technology.

Neither the White House nor OBM nor DC officials are talking, but… we have confirmed it.

The name is only a part of the story, of course. There are still many questions out there — the most obvious: What are the roles and responsibilities. As the Congressional Research Service report about the CTO suggested, the lines between the various government IT leadership posts are… murky. It seems to me, there are essentially four pockets of government IT expertise: the e-gov administrator (can we please dump the e-gov name — it’s so… 2001!)… OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affiars (OIRA), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and then… the new much discussed Obama CTO.

I hope that the Obama administration will make clear how all these pieces work together — and who is in charge. Frankly, one of the problems has been that there hasn’t been enough of a coordinated, strategic approach to technology, information technology and data, and this seems like an opportune time to make all those lines clear. And some of that discussion has been going on behind the scenes. It is part of the reorganization at OMB that resulted in the creation of a career deputy e-gov administrator , Michael Howell. (An aside: I’m hearing that Howell had a number of speaking engagements scheduled over the next few weeks and the White House apparently had him cancel.)

Just to add one other group into the mix: the Federal CIO Council, which the Bush administration severely underused.

NextGov’s Jill Atoro has heard that Virginia’s secretary of technology, Aneesh Chopra , could be the CTO.

I had expected that they would do with the CTO what they did — or tried to do — with the chief performance officer: Double up on titles. The chief performance officer was also the OMB deputy director for management. And I suspected — and even hoped — that they would have the OMB e-gov administrator also be theCTO . There needs to be somebody who can lead the government’s IT initiatives, which are currently scattered across these different organizations.

I’m also hearing that the White House may be close to naming a cyber-security czar. I haven’t heard names yet, but… it creates a question what that post will mean for chief information security officers… and theCIO Council’s new security committee.

Still many questions yet to be answered.

Read Chopra’s bio after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

February 6, 2009 at 1:20 PM