Kundra named federal CIO, vows to make more data public
- By Mary Mosquera
- Mar 05, 2009
The administration’s newly appointed federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, said today he plans to make the massive volumes of government data that isn't sensitive available to the public through a new Web site, www.data.gov
. With more data available to the public, he said more participant would be helping to solve the nation’s difficult challenges.
President Barack Obama today named Kundra, the former chief technology officer for the local government of the District of Columbia, to two posts; the federal CIO in the White House, and he will also be the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and information technology, Kundra said in a teleconference with reporters after Obama's announcement.
Kundra said he plans to build on innovations from the previous administration but wants to move beyond e-government. As federal CIO, he will be focused on operations and effectively spending the $71 billion federal IT budget.
“I’m driving a transparency and open government agenda to make sure that the public has access to information and to government, and we rethink how the government interacts with the public in an information economy,” Kundra said. That view includes developing “an innovative path,” whether it’s borrowing from the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and applying them to the federal government and “changing the velocity at which we adopt new technologies,” Kundra said.
“One of things we plan to embark on is launching Data.gov, [the new site], which would democratize data and give data back to the public. The challenge -- whether it’s citizens, NGOs, [or] the private sector -- is to help us think through how we address some of the toughest problems in the public sector,” he said. Data.gov would publish data feeds of a vast array of data, he stated.
Kundra cited an example of the result of where publishing federal government information “fundamentally transformed the economy.” When the National Institute of Health, working with other world bodies, published the human genome project online, “it created a revolution in personalized medicine, where you ended up with 500 drugs created or in the pipeline of the" Food and Drug Administration, he said.
“We need to make sure that all that data that’s not private can be made public,” Kundra said. “What we should be thinking about is how do we begin with the assumption that the default be that we put information out into the public domain, and the second question is, what needs to be private and not the other way around,” he said.
Kundra has pioneered efforts to improve transparency, engage citizens and lower the cost of government operations, the administration said.
As the D.C. government’s CTO, Kundra was responsible for technology operations and strategy for 86 agencies. While in that position, he deployed applications to make more data available to residents. For example, people could access online maps that allowed them to view crime statistics in different areas of the city by clicking on specific neighborhoods.
Before becoming D.C.’s CTO in 2007, Kundra was Virginia's assistant secretary of commerce and technology under Gov. Tim Kaine, a dual-role Cabinet position in which Kundra implemented business process changes to streamline the state government while promoting business opportunities, according to his official biography. Before that, Kundra served as director of infrastructure technology for county government of Arlington, Va.
He has also worked in the private sector as vice president of Evincible Software, a provider of identity management services.
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.