Federal CIO Vivek Kundra a Huge Draw (even on a Sat. Morning)

by on April 27, 2009 · 6 comments

Vivek Kundra spoke to a 150+ crowd at a Northern Virginia Technology Counsel event on Saturday morning in Tysons Corner. He has his speech crafted pretty well at this point, but did have interesting responses to one question on open standards from someone who said he was affiliated with the W3C, and another question about cloud computing.

One questioner asked about Kundra’s commitment to open standards as a way to increase government accountability and transparency. Kundra responded by differentiating between open data and open standards. He said that he’s deeply committed to opening up data to make it machine readable and easier for people to use/mix/mash. But, open standards is different — technology changes so fast that by the time one standard comes along, there’s another, and another, which is why government can’t lock-in on one standard.

Responding to another question about government use of cloud computing, Kundra was enthusiastic. He said that government should absolutely use lightweight consumer-based technology “for free” whenever it can. He did not define “free” which left me wondering what he meant exactly by free (call me skeptical, but nothing’s really free). Of course there are security issues, he said, but these can be addressed.

He also differentiated his role as CIO with Chopra’s role as CTO. Chopra will be responsible for crafting policy toward helath IT, education, and energy. Kundra manages the 10,000 federal IT systems and will focus on consolidation, cost-reduction and procurement.

Two phrases that Kundra uses over and over are “democratizing data” and using IT to create a “context-driven government.” Sounds good — and will be even better if the entrenched bureaucracy allows the conceptual sound bites to become reality.

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