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The New US Federal CIO Sets The Bar High

By Andrea Di Maio | March 06, 2009 | 0 Comments

I just bloggedabout Vivek Kundra’s appointment as the federal CIO, and here he comes with a number of very interesting highlights at his first press briefing yesterday (see news).

Three of the points he made struck me for their relevance and for how early he has made them.

The first one is on greater availability of public information. He announced, a single point of access to all public information from the federal government. His reference models are the long standing tradition of D.C. with Capstat and the more recent Appsfordemocracy contest, so it is most likely that this will not just be a window to federal data for transparency purposes, but a component of a broader strategy to allow citizens and businesses to leverage and create value from public data.

The second one is a comment he made about the 1 billion $ funding that the Social Security Administration will receive through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop a new national data center, and how it should be seen in the broader context of federal IT. This, combined with his interest in cloud computing, suggests a deep rethinking of consolidation and shared service initiatives, starting with the IT Infrastructure Line of Business (web site currently being refreshed…).

Last but not least, he recognized the relevance of social networks such as Facebook, saying that government cannot ignore them and that they will have an impact on how back-end government systems evolve.

Maybe I am reading too much in what he said, but he looks like being willing to address the problem of more effective use of technology in government from two different perspectives:

  • from the outside in, by socializing information and services, and encouraging rather than fighting new service delivery models and the role of new forms of social aggregation in driving citizen engagement
  • from the inside out, by harmonizing and commoditizing infrastructrure (and more) across government and exploring innovative sourcing arrangements

It is interesting that this is exactly what I have been telling clients for a long time, when discussing about the future of government and the role of web 2.0 technologies.  Still in many cases people (especially in Europe) shake their heads and seem to imply I am talking science fiction.

If Vivek walks further in the direction he just alluded to, I may have one of the best data points an analyst could ever get.

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