Monday, March 9, 2009

First U.S. Government CIO Offers Hope through Efficiency and Transparency

Late last week, President Obama announced the appointment of the United States Federal Government’s first-ever Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra. Mr. Kundra’s experiences and accomplishments align very well with the needs of this role. I am most impressed with Kundra’s ability to drive focus within his IT teams which has lead to both cost savings and new innovation. Specifically, he has a record of implementing clever processes for IT Governance, improving transparency and accessibility while driving efficiency. InfoWorld reported on Kundra’s appointment and emphasized these very abilities:

"’It's tough in tight budgets to find the innovative path,’ Kundra notes, which is why he was so focused on gaining stock-market-like efficiencies in weeding out wasteful projects and identifying strong ones. Thanks to the savings already established from this approach, he was able to set up an R&D lab to test new ideas.”

Mr. Kundra has an historic opportunity to help set the agenda not only for Information Technology within the U.S. government, but throughout the public sector and even in private enterprise. As he constructs his game plan in this new role, I’ll offer Mr. Kundra three ideas to literally transform our government’s approach to IT:

1. Tackle the “80% maintenance cost” problem head-on by creating the most efficient IT infrastructure in the world. Do this by using the array of proven technologies that can measurably eliminate costs, especially cloud-based computing services and open source software. Avoiding the status quo (aged, proprietary software and hardware models) will help free up funding for the next two points.
2. Drive innovation by making the most vital applications more accessible and available through an increasingly consumer-like user experience. [Note: Kundra has specific experience here, impressively]. This could encourage a whole new generation of IT personnel who will want to work for the government.
3. Support your President’s agenda by using information technology to re-create the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Social services, contracts and procurement, and public safety are all great places to start. Most interestingly, the entire process of creating law can be made transparent and accessible through wiki’s, blogs, forums, and the collaborative construct of a Government “Forge”. Call it “OneWorldForge” and use it to re-establish the United States as the upstart democracy that once again changes the world.

I offer my congratulations to Vivek Kundra and wish him much success in this important new role.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

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