by Martin Veitch

New US government CIO praises consumer IT

Mar 05, 20092 mins
IT Leadership

For those of us of a certain age, the new, 34-year-old CIO of the US government might seem shockingly youthful but he’s already talking sense.

Vivek Kundra was appointed to the role yesterday and, in a conference call, outlined his plans for spending his sizeable budget — $71bn a year.

Kundra, the former CTO of the District of Columbia, reportedly said that government IT should not see itself as very different to any other organisation and should embrace standard, off-the-peg technology.

In the DC role, he said “the public sector decided it was so special that there was no way it would adopt consumer technology” even though “you have Darwinian innovation in the consumer space, and that fundamentally lowered our operating costs”.

Making sense of the vastness of government is an enormous challenge. Red tape is everywhere and politically motivated people can make even the calmest heads spin. What is clear, and must remain clear, is that the public sector needs efficient systems and an underrated aspect of Tony Blair’s reign here in the UK was modernising government, primarily though an enormous amount of technology spending.

Kundra seems to have the Obama gift of the common touch. Let’s hope he (and his boss) can keep that, remember that you don’t have to play political games to cut through the forest of jobsworths, and that using some common sense is a good rule of thumb in life.