White House: Vivek Kundra to step down in August


The Office of Management and Budget has confirmed that Vivek Kundra, the OMB administrator for e-government and information technology, also known as the federal chief information officer, will step down in August of this year. Kundra is leaving to serve as a joint fellow at the Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

The news was announced in a June 16 statement from OMB Director Jack Lew, following early morning rumors emanating from a Politico Pro article (reg. req.).

Kundra's resignation comes on the heels of another milestone, one that was glossed over by many. June 9 was the first 6-month mark for Kundra's 25-point plan for restructuring federal information technology.

Since the 25-point plan launched on Dec. 9, 2010, Kundra has ticked several IT reform items off his list including: Making "IT program manager" an official federal title, releasing a federal cloud computing strategy, shuttering many data centers and having agencies host their own TechStat accountability sessions.

Kundra's resignation also follows a slew of awards--even the night before the announcement. He accepted TechAmerica's Government Technology Executive of the Year Award June 15 and the week prior he received the "Executive Leadership in Information Resources Management-Civilian Government Executive Award" from the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

In short, Kundra appears ready to head to the quieter pastures of academia with the goodwill of many and the knowledge of accomplishments done. Except, what's changed, beyond some transitory or cosmetic matters? As recently as six months ago, Kundra said he wanted to make fundamental changes, including to the budget process. Real change requires time and energy, especially in an enterprise as governed by rules and inertia as the federal government.

So, in reality, data center consolidation is running into resistance in Congress; the pace of data center closures expected by OMB this year runs to 12 a month, a pace probably sustainable only if the data centers are on the small side. The rush to cloud computing is creating its own stovepiping standards and the largest IT spender of them all, the Defense Department, is still dominated by officials who believe the 5000 process need not be greatly altered to accommodate IT.

Kundra's successes are best measured by internal measures, then: Number of meetings held, number of strategies launched, number of promises made--but not by permanent changed affected.

NOTE: Some readers may have noticed that I've been missing the past few days from our FierceMarkets publications, including FierceGovernmentIT. I've been grappling with a bad case of food poisoning but thankfully the worst has abated. I'll be back in full form the following week. - Dave