Indian American to be Obama administration’s infotech czar

March 5th, 2009 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, March 5 (IANS) US President Barack Obama is slated to appoint Vivek Kundra, a 34-year-old Indian American, as federal chief information officer to help the government leverage communication technology.
Kundra, who is chief technology officer for Washington district, was likely to be appointed to the new position later Thursday, the Washington Post reported, quoting two administration officials.

The job did not exist in previous administrations but Obama, who used text messages, internet social networks and other tech tools on his campaign trail, promised to create a ‘technology czar’ to help the government operate more efficiently, the Post reported Thursday.

Kundra, who was technology adviser on Obama’s transition team, was considered to be a contender for the job.

New Delhi-born Kundra is expected to oversee how government agencies purchase and use IT and will be in charge of all federal technology spending. He will also be responsible for making sure agencies’ networks and systems work together and share information while maintaining security and privacy standards, the report said.

As the district’s chief technology officer, Kundra oversaw technology projects and budgets for 86 agencies. He previously served as Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine’s assistant secretary of commerce and trade, and later as assistant secretary of technology.

His experience in those public sector roles, as well as his stint running technology start-ups, make him well-suited for the federal position, according to his supporters.

Kundra will have budgetary authority to launch new systems within government departments or stop ongoing IT projects.

In a profile posted on the website of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, Kundra moved to Tanzania at the age of one and shifted to the US when he was 11.

Kundra has said his ambition is “to affect change as a public servant”. He has named Mahatma Gandhi as the person he admires and Bill Gates as the one with whom he would like to have dinner.

“Sholay” is his favourite film and “Great Expectations” his favourite book.

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