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I had a dream

by Andrea Di Maio  |  March 17, 2009  |  4 Comments

Those who read my recent posts about the new US federal CIOs Vivek Kundra have certainly noticed how enthusiastically I welcomed his appointment and how strongly I felt about this being a turning point for a new role of IT in government. As I talked to clients in several countries over the last two weeks, I could sense interest, curiosity as well as excitement about how he could contribute to change the landscape for many public sector CIOs, showing how the CIO role can combine cost savviness and innovation. Even in countries that, for cultural or political reasons, have never been particularly attracted to what goes on in the US, every single person I talked to knew about Vivek. I do not believe this was just a consequence of effective media exposure: some of his early speeches struck a chord with many who were waiting for a new role model in the government IT domain.

Unfortunately something happened over the last few days that could question Vivek’s tenure: an FBI investigation concerning one of his reports in DC, where he was CTO, could jeopardize his role. This is not the place to make any sort of commentary or speculation, and none of the early reports makes any allegation about him knowing about the situation. However, a new administration that pushes for greater transparency, may find itself with little choice, and so could Vivek.

I do still hope in a positive outcome that allows Vivek to continue his adventure as the federal CIO, and the latest signs are quite encouraging. If that’s not the case, let’s not forget that the President set the foundations for openness of information to become a new driver for transformation, and that the economic situation may still act as a catalyst for some of Vivek’s early moves toward cloud computing. On the other hand, should the worse come to the worse, this may strengthen those who want to maintain the status quo and would fight against any disruption in the IT power balance across different agencies.

I can still hope that whoever leads the US federal government IT, be that Vivek or somebody else, will have the vision and the courage to make change happen.

I do vividly remember one thing Vivek told me when I asked him how he managed to get some very innovative ideas through the challenges of politics and legal issues. He said “I just present the idea (to lawyers and politicians) and ask them: Prove me wrong”.

Prove me wrong. I had a dream that we would hear this phrase more often in Washington. And I still do.

Additional Resources

Category: e-government  

Tags: obama  us-federal-cio  vivek-kundra  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on I had a dream

  1. Al Passori says:

    Perhaps there is no better time than the present for CIOs throughout the government to issue a manifesto of sorts that governs the organization’s Code of Ethics based on sound principles, governing laws and directives, and the concommitant, shared values of transparency, mutual trust and respect.

    Several CIOs at a local CIO roundtable recently stated and agreed that “the CIO has a responsibility and obligation to lead ethical behavior of the IT organization by example.”

    One CIO present did offer his observation that “high-performing organizations typically adopt an ethics-based, principles-driven decision-making process that best reflects the interests of the public to avoid the appearance of impropriety.” The discussion then turned toward the topic of ethical conduct and promoting a culture of “doing the right thing.”

    Mr. Kundra can turn this unfortunate incident into public gain by developing and promoting a government-wide unified code of ethics for the IT organizations. It is conceivable that Vivek Kundar could (and should) institutionalize a process of ensuring every IT employee reads and agrees to abide by a IT Code of Ethics that the employees acknowledge and accept the Code by signing an annual ethics statement during their annual performance review.

    The CIO Roundtable group consensus is that this would be an effective and perhaps simple means of inculcating ethical behavior throughout the IT organizations by creating, promoting, and nurturing a culture whose performance is based on shared ethics, beliefs, principles and governing laws.

    Leadership and ethical behavior should be the hallmark of this Adminstartion. Vivek Kundra is well-positioned to lead by example and be the standrad bearer of the initiative.

  2. […] who have been reading this blog for some time know that I like Vivek and wished him well when he went into some trouble shortly after his appointment. I do not think that allegations or […]

  3. […] among senior IT leaders throughout the US. Of course not all of them love him and his “prove-me-wrong” style that has brought the mantra of beta versions to the fore in the traditionally […]

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