Kundra wants data more available

The Obama administration wants a “context-driven government” with services accessible through people's regular daily activities that involve information technology, according to the administration’s top IT officer.

The government needs to re-examine how to use technology to interact with the public and provide services most useful to people, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, said April 25 at a breakfast hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council and sponsored by 1105 Government Information Group.

Kundra said the “context-driven government” could be powered by making the large amounts of data that agencies have available for the public to use. He calls that process “democratizing” data.

“We need to rethink how we reach the American people and ask the question: How do we engage the American people and provide services in their daily digital lives?” Kundra said. “We’re looking forward to tapping into the ingenuity of the American people to ensure that we have a government that’s not only responsive, but that finds the innovative path to deliver services that could never be delivered before and that allows us to leap-frog and leverage new technologies that exist.”

Kundra cited the Human Genome Project and the Global Positioning System technologies as examples of how government data has led to innovation.

“We need to move toward a new vision of service delivery and recognize that we don’t necessarily need to spend taxpayer dollars on continuing to invest in infrastructure that’s government-centric only,” he added. “We need to start thinking about the solutions from the eyes of the public that we serve, rather than through the eyes of public servants that want to make it easy for themselves to deploy solutions.”

Kundra also repeated comments he made earlier that week about the need to improve the federal procurement process by enhancing efficiency and accountability. He said the government hasn’t been doing a good job of defining its requirements, and in some cases, the private sector has not been held accountable for failures in massive IT projects.

“In this economy, we cannot afford to squander away billions of dollars in investments that don’t yield results,” he said. “At the same time, the government also needs to look inward and say: 'Why is it that we’re not making the tough choices? Why is it that we’re not defining the requirements properly and not holding officials accountable when they horribly plan initiatives?' ”

Kundra also said the administration would increase "the frequency at which we monitor these investments” and “not just in terms of one or two metrics, but across the board and ask the deeper question: What is this really driving toward in terms of performance?”

However, Kundra said with the government's four million employees, 10,000-plus IT systems and more than 24,000 Web sites, complete transformation of federal IT wouldn’t come overnight.

“We recognize the challenge that we face, and we know it’s not going to happen overnight, but we need to change the trajectory we are on to ensure that we’re embracing technology to drive innovation, to create a more open and transparent government, to ensure that we’re lowering the cost of government operations and also we need to make sure that the investments we’re making in information technology yield the results that were promised up front,” he said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 29, 2009 Tyler Compton Norfolk

Kundra's call for improved accounting and oversight for procurement could be addressed by adopting the excellent practices he advanced as CTO of OCTO.

Tue, Apr 28, 2009 Vimla Mariwalla

I hear a lot of talk with phrases like "its not going to happen overnight". I want to hear and see drastic changes in tax returns and audits. Why can't they do audits within 3 months of the tax returns? It is not rocket science to do audits within 3 months of tax returns! If you can't do that you are lagging behind so much that I don't believe you can ever achieve what you say will not happen overnight. I call it Govenrnment with goals but no deadlines (GWGND)!

Tue, Apr 28, 2009 Ashok Maryland

What's the process he wants to implement to realize his goal? I want to see the details. I think, his immaturity is speaking and not his mind.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group