May 20, 2018

Kundra Named As Federal CIO

Today, the Obama administration named Vivek Kundra as the Chief Information Officer of the U.S. government, a newly created position.

This is great news. Kundra, in his previous role as CTO of the District of Columbia, made great strides in opening the DC government by publishing government data. When he spoke at our Thursday Forum last fall, everyone was impressed by how quickly and effectively he had transformed the DC government’s approach to technology.

First, he set up an open Data Catalog, where lots of data collected by the DC government is freely available in standard formats. Second, he ran the Apps for Democracy contest, in which he challenged citizens to develop applications to take advantage of all the data that the DC government is publishing. The results were impressive—with 47 different apps submitted by citizens—and also inexpensive.

Most impressively, in doing this he overcame the natural inertia of big city government. The Federal government will be even harder to budge, but with the right support from the top, Kundra could bring a new level of openness and tech-friendliness to the government.

Comments

  1. If you believe the rumor mill there’s still an outside chance that Joe will get his wish. Word is that there’s a CTO on the way in addition to Kundra’s CIO position.

  2. hi ed,

    I think it is a good thing that Kundra knows about the technological edge and is willing to leverage it, but I hope he seeks security advice from someone who understands security. To be clear using an example, it is absolutely great that Kundra knows that Twitter exists, but it is maybe not so great that his staff uses Twitter for (sometimes sensitive) communication. A knowledgeable security person would point out the risks of open and unsecured transmission so that they can be factored into a resonable policy for Twitter use (when and how, and when to stop listening).

    I would love to see a mandate for software security come out of the administration (think the Gates memo) and then someone knowledgeable (think Steve Lipner to continue the Microsoft analogy) appointed to execute it.

    gem

  3. Anonymous says:

    One commenter writes:

    “A knowledgeable security person would point out the risks of open and unsecured transmission so that they can be factored into a resonable policy for Twitter use (when and how, and when to stop listening).”

    That last item makes no sense. I’m not aware of any security risk attendant simply *listening* to anything. The security risks here all involve sending something sensitive.

    (There can be a security risk to listening to something *and taking it as gospel*, of course, but it’s not the listening part that creates the risk!)

    A subsequent commenter goes off on a tangent about monitoring employee Internet use, which seems scarcely relevant to the issue of information security. He seems to have misunderstood the issue here as one of government employees goofing off and wasting time with Twitter, rather than of misusing it to send sensitive information. It is doubtful that the software he evangelizes will be of any help in coping with the latter problem. Kundra having a smart cyber-security expert advisor is what will help with things like that, not any particular piece of software, and certainly not spyware.