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First Federal CIO in US History to Step Down

Kundra was appointed by Barack Obama in March of 2009 shortly after the new president moved into the White House

Vivek Kundra, the very first federal CIO, the guy who brought the cloud to Washington and oversaw its e-government initiatives, will be leaving for a joint Harvard fellowship at the Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society come mid-August.

His resignation was confirmed by the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Jack Lew, who credits him with saving the taxpayer $3 billion in wasteful IT spending, strengthening the government's cybersecurity and making it "more open, transparent and participatory."

Apparently his data.gov model - recently the subject of some pretty stringent budget cuts - has been copied by 16 countries. Others have duplicated his IT Dashboard, which tracks government spending on IT.

Kundra was appointed by Barack Obama in March of 2009 shortly after the new president moved into the White House. There's now also a federal CTO Aneesh Chopra and a federal chief performance officer Jeffrey Zients.

It's unclear if Kundra will be replaced although Lew said something about a "smooth transition."

The federal government spends about $80 billion a year on IT, but Kundra still finds it antiquated and - in a word - his word - "horrible."

Politico, which broke the news of his departure, says Kundra is not without his critics, pointing to the security issues raised by Washington putting sensitive data in the cloud. The publication interviewed him recently and he said some agencies' security was so bad they'd be better off letting a third party handle their data storage. Vital secrets should remain in government hands.

Kundra figures Washington can save another $5 billion consolidating redundant systems like HR in the cloud.

Some 39 government data centers have been closed and another 137 will go by the end of the year. Altogether 800 data centers made Kundra's hit list. Agencies are moving 78 computer systems to shared cloud resources in the next 12 months. A larger plan has $20 billion of e-mail, web site management and claims processing going to the cloud.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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