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Obama taps Google cloud lover as America's first CIO

Kundra's stateless government

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US President Barack Obama has named the federal government's first chief information officer.

Vivek Kundra - formerly chief technology officer for the local Washington D.C. government - was unveiled as federal CIO this morning at the White House.

"Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position," reads a canned statement from the Prez. "I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."

The 34-year-old Kundra took over D.C.'s CTO role in March 2007, overseeing IT for 86 local agencies spanning 38,000 employees. Previously, he served as Virgina's assistant secretary of commerce and technology, an unusual dual cabinet role under Governor Timothy Paine.

Kundra also served as the director of infrastructure technology for the city government in Arlington, Virginia, after stints as the vp of marketing at an electronic signatures and identity management outfit known as, well, Evincible Software and as the chief executive officer at Creostar, a government IT consultancy.

Last year, InfoWorld named Kundra as one of its Top 25 CTOs.

As D.C.'s CTO, he warmly embraced Google Enterprise, Mountain View's growing suite of products for internal business use. Enterprise includes Google's online office apps as well as its intranet search appliances.

"All of our assets were in one physical building," he said in August as Google pitched enterprise at, of all places, the Democratic National Convention. "I wanted to learn how we could run a stateless government, without physical infrastructure."

In other words, Kundra believes in what Google CEO Eric Schmidt insists on calling the Google "cloud." And considering Obama's longstanding Google lust, it's no surprise he was tapped as federal CIO, .

As US CIO, Kundra will work alongside an as yet unnamed CTO. One tech czar isn't enough. ®

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