University of Maryland confirms Kundra's credentials after questions raised

Widely distributed blog post questions the federal CIO’s bio

Challenging claims in a highly discussed blog post, University of Maryland officials told Federal Computer Week today that federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the university system.

Kundra earned an undergraduate degree in behavioral and social sciences in 1998, according to a University of Maryland at College Park spokeswoman. University of Maryland University College spokesman Chip Cassano confirmed that Kundra earned a Masters of Science in Information Systems Management in 2001.

Kundra also taught an undergraduate class at UMUC, Cassano said.

The blog post by John C. Dvorak accuses Kundra of inflating his resume, claiming to hold degrees he doesn't have and to have had jobs he didn't hold. The post, “Special Report: Is US Chief Information Officer (CIO) Vivek Kundra a Phony?” appeared on the Dvorak Uncensored Web site. Dvorak is also a contributing editor of PC Magazine.

In the blog post, Dvorak said he was unable to confirm that Kundra received a Master of Science degree in information technology from the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Kundra received the degree from University of Maryland University College, which is a separate institution under the University System of Maryland, university officials confirmed. Dvorak apparently later amended his original post to acknowledge that.

Obama administration officials at first did not respond to a request for comment on Dvorak’s charges, but they did provide links to two blog posts that challenge Dvorak’s assertions. In one of the posts, on Gigaom, an unnamed White House official called Dvorak’s article “a gross smear” and “highly inaccurate.” Gigaom's Om Malik said Kundra himself "called back and said that it was clear that 'someone was spinning partial truths.' ”

Office of Management and Budget communications director Kenneth Baer later acknowledged to FCW that he was the source of the first Gigaom quotes. “These are the worst type of lies and distortions about a public figure, and they rightfully have been debunked," he told FCW.

Kundra, who served as chief technology officer in the Washington D.C., government before his presidential appointment, is a strong advocate for emerging technologies such as cloud computing and Web 2.0 tools. He has also pushed for the White House to use technology as a tool for achieving open government goals.

In March, just after his appointment as federal CIO, Kundra took a brief leave of absence following the FBI's arrest of an employee in Kundra's former Washington, D.C., city government office, and a contractor. Kundra was never a suspect in that investigation, and the FBI officially cleared him of any involvement in the case. 

Dvorak, a self-avowed provocateur in the blogosphere, has been with PC Magazine since 1986, according to his own official bio.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Fri, Aug 28, 2009 Thiago

I think all these posts that go "Dvorak was wrong, Vivek has a degree" only cover a small part of what he was trying to alert. The MOST important part is that the guy sounds pretty much ignorant about real tech issues. His speech, reproduced on Leo Laporte's TWiT podcast last sunday is actually quite hilarious, with Vivek citing the Star Trek Holodeck and COBOL in a real random fashion. OTOH, Dvorak knows what he's talking about. A provocateur? Absolutely. A liar? No way.

Mon, Aug 17, 2009 Tom Florida

Hmmm. In looking at Aneesh Chopra, our new CTO, his qualifications are a B.A. in Public Health from Johns Hopkins & a master in public policy from Harvard. He also worked for the state of Virginia and a think tank before that. Did he have any real industry experience? Shouldn’t a CTO have some kind of technical B.S. degree instead of a health degree? Does he have anything technical in his background? He sounds like a young professional politician like Kundra.

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