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Microsoft Vet Replacing Kundra As Federal CIO

Steven VanRoekel, a former Microsoft exec and currently managing director of the FCC, will take over Kundra's open government and federal IT reform efforts.
A former Microsoft executive who joined the Obama administration two years ago will replace Vivek Kundra as U.S. CIO, the White House will announce Thursday.

Steven VanRoekel, who's been with the administration since 2009 as managing director of the Federal Communications Commission, will fill the position Kundra vacated on Aug. 1, according to an administration official.

Prior to working for the FCC, VanRoekel spent 15 years at Microsoft, holding a range of positions. While at the company, he held management roles in its small business and Web services units, and also served as co-founder Bill Gates' personal assistant.

His private-sector experience should serve him well in an administration that's actively sought advice from top technology companies about how it can save money and run IT operations more efficiently by emulating them.

Still, VanRoekel has some big shoes to fill--as well as some highly publicized and criticized IT initiatives to continue.

In his more than two years as CIO, Kundra spearheaded a number of efforts to make the federal government more transparent and accountable through the use of technology.

Those efforts launched several online dashboards and websites--such as Data.gov--to provide the public with an unprecedented view into federal data and developers with information for creating new mobile and Web applications.

Kundra also was proactive in letting the public know how the government is spending taxpayer money. Another website launched during his tenure, the Federal IT Dashboard, is aimed at holding federal agencies' feet to the fire when it comes to how it's managing IT spending and projects.

This dashboard and other efforts were all part of Kundra's long-term goal to reform a federal government that, in his and other critics' frank opinions, had been making serious hash of its IT investments over more than a decade.

Another major Kundra-driven effort that VanRoekel will take over is a broad data-center consolidation plan that, despite progress, still has numerous doubters and critics, and a crackdown on wasteful spending through a strategy enacted by President Obama himself.

The new CIO also inherits the federal government's moves into cloud computing through Kundra's cloud-first policy, which mandates that agencies identify systems that can move to the cloud and consider cloud computing before other options for new IT projects.

In his waning days with the administration, Kundra saw budget cuts affecting some of the initiatives he started, and when he resigned officials remained mixed about whether his work will continue under his successor.

VanRoekel said he plans to continue Kundra's work and will use his private-sector experience to do so, according to a report in the New York Times.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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