According to press reports, the much awaited CTO position in the new US administration are that one of the top candidates may actually fill the role of Director for E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget.
Vivek Kundra, who is the current CTO of the District of Columbia (and who featured this blog with his initiative around Apps for Democracy), is said to replace Karen Evans in a role that would make him the whole-of-government CIO. Although this is not confirmed yet, nor do we know how this role would be redefined by the new administration, it is interesting to speculate what might happen if a Vivek were to take that position.
He has recently made the news with a number of interesting and ground-breaking initiatives around portfolio management, transparent procurement and – more recently – the call for new applications to leverage existing data feeds. He is also known as a believer in the benefits of cloud computing, software as a service and open source.
While the federal government landscape is probably more challenging than the D.C. one, a position reporting to the OMB had significant clout to drive IT investment behaviors across government. Vivek clearly is on the same wavelength as the US president when it comes to understanding the power of information and pursuing greater openness. If he takes the position, it will also interesting to see whether he will be willing to revise the federal enterprise architecture approach in order to drive a different approach to information architecture. Other areas where he may have a profound impact are the Infrastructure Line of Business, where cloud computing may become one of the available sourcing options, as well as the adoption of open source and community source approaches across government.
It will also be interesting to watch how the CTO and the CIO position will relate to each other. If the latest rumors are true, the former should report to the Office of Science and Technology, and not to the CIO himself (as it happens in other countries). While it is early to comment and one has to understand the details of each mandate, it would be desirable to have those positions aligned. Being part of the OMB as opposed to reporting directly to the President is not a bad thing: countries where e-government has made most progress are those were the e-government responsibility (or the national CIO one) were incorporated into a Finance or Budget Department. Especially these days, those who control the strings of the purse are in a much more influential position.