CIO Symmetry

Mar 6 2009   5:50PM GMT

Obama chooses a federal CIO: The next generation of CIOs?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

President Obama selected Vivek Kundra as his first federal CIO. Kundra, formerly chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, has been recognized among the top 25 CTOs in the country and as the 2008 IT Executive of the Year.

Is he an example of the next generation of CIOs?

Kundra, who refers to citizens as “co-creators,” has received a lot of attention in his 19 months of service with D.C. mayor Adrian M. Fenty – adopting the latest computing trends and introducing popular social media tools into his bureaucratic processes.

Keeping up with the ever-changing beat of technology, engaging citizens, lowering the cost of government operations and spearheading innovative projects are some of the many things that make Kundra stand out.

Young and change-oriented, Kundra uses YouTube to post the bidding process for city contracts and Twitter in the office, and he wants to let drivers pay parking tickets on Facebook. Imagine that: Accept a new friend request and pay your fine, all in one login.

For midcareer CIOs who don’t use social media and may not be making innovation and big change a priority, especially in this economy, Kundra and others like him may feel like a threat. CIOs get replaced because they become too comfortable in the way things are and are unable to see new opportunities for change and transformation, or are unable to make it happen.

Granted, Kundra’s big ideas and plans may be so forward thinking as to be naive, given his resources and the potential four-year shelf life of his position as federal CIO. But there is something to be said about a big-dreamer with fresh ideas who is able look beyond the tried and true. Kundra launched a contest in October called Apps for Democracy and got developers to submit 47 Web applications to provide residents with city data. According to The Washington Post, Kundra said he spent $50,000 for the contest, including prize money, but he estimates saving $2.6 million by not hiring contract developers.

Willing to take risks and able to visualize new ideas and situations, Kundra was able to engage citizens, save money and come up with a series of applications for the people in his last job. As he demonstrates similar gusto as the federal CIO, do you applaud his youthful energy and ideas as a welcome reprieve from everyday government, or foresee him having to learn hard lessons about change, resources and the politics of IT, as many of you have in the trenches of corporate America?

4  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Buddyfarr
    I say awesome! Someone with the knowledge and forsight to use new and emerging tech to help bring this country into the now is great. All I have to say is SECURITY!! That is my number 1 concern with any technology, old or new.
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  • Knowledgesource
    The primary objective of CIOs/CTOs is government departments in the United States is to bring about a comprehensive e-Governance initiative to automate most of the functions of the government departments, as United States is yet to realize a high E-Governance ranking among nations in IT enabled departments.
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  • SuperMac
    A critical move. Bright as they are, "experienced" CIOs have personal agendas that place themselves at the top. I agree with Buddyfarr and suggest all Government web interaction is done using iNames, such as can be found at . Of course the government would have to negotiate (or buy out), or provide it's own agency, to offer the iNames at absolute minimum cost to encourage wide adoption. Perhaps 1st two years free, then $10 per year.
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  • SuperMac
    A critical move. Bright as they are, "experienced" CIOs have personal agendas that place themselves at the top. I agree with Buddyfarr and suggest all Government web interaction is done using iNames, such as can be found at [A href="http://2idi.com/"]. Of course the government would have to negotiate (or buy out), or provide it's own agency, to offer the iNames at absolute minimum cost to encourage wide adoption. Perhaps 1st two years free, then $10 per year.
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