Chief Of The Year: Federal CIO Vivek Kundra
On the wall of Vivek Kundra’s Washington, D.C., office hangs a poster-sized IT diagram with such fine-grained detail that it strains the eye to study it. The diagram, showing the computing infrastructure of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was created to expose data that could be made publicly available as part of President Obama’s government “transparency” initiative. Kundra, appointed the nation’s first federal CIO in March, has learned that it’s not enough to mandate data disclosure; he must get involved.
“I’m not just going to operate at the 100,000-foot level,” says the 35-year-old, Indian-born Kundra. “I’m going to get at the atomic level, get into the enterprise architecture, study your information models, and figure out how we achieve those objectives.”
The job of opening the government’s databases to the public—complicated by the need to ensure security, privacy, confidentiality, and data quality—is huge, and Kundra will be the first to admit that most of the work lies ahead. In fact, that’s true for everything on his plate: reducing the number of federal data centers, transitioning government agencies to cloud services, bolstering cybersecurity, improving IT project performance, and engaging the public over the Web.
With such a long, unfinished to-do list, you might say that we’re premature in naming Kundra InformationWeek’s Chief of the Year. But that’s where we landed, and here’s why: The federal CIO, now nine months into the job, has demonstrated a compelling vision for overhauling the government’s lumbering IT operations (with 71,000 federal IT workers and more than 10,000 IT systems), and his progress is so far impressive.