Chris Kemp to quit NASA's CTO job

Leaving the place he "dreamed of working" to be an entrepreneur

Chris Kemp is leaving his post as NASA's CTO for IT to be an entrepreneur.

Citing “mixed feelings” about leaving NASA after five years -- calling NASA "the place I dreamed of working as a kid" -- Kemp made the announcement in the NASA blog on March 14. Kemp indicated in an e-mail message to FCW that the resignation is effective on March 18.

“Deciding to leave NASA has not been easy, and is something I've been struggling with for the past few months,” Kemp wrote. One of the things he struggled with, he added, is the difficulty in being an entrepreneur at NASA.


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“I realized that most of my accomplishments at NASA were not at Headquarters, but out in the field where I could roll up my sleeves and work on projects and get stuff done,” Kemp wrote. “Whereas, I thought I had the best of both worlds…I actually had the worst of both worlds... no influence when I can't be in all of those meetings at NASA [headquarters] with no mandate to manage projects at [the] Ames [Research Center]. As budgets kept getting cut and continuing resolutions from Congress continued to make funding unavailable, I saw my vision for the future slowly slip further from my grasp.”

In his new role, Kemp added, he hopes “to find a garage in Palo Alto to do what I love.”

Kemp previously served as CIO at Ames, where he created the NASA Nebula cloud computing platform that allowed researchers to set up computing storage and virtual machines in an accessible and pay-as-you-go environment.

Kemp also supported open-source technologies and developed partnerships with Microsoft Research to develop the WorldWide Telescope, and with Google to customize applications such as Google Earth.

Kemp indicated in an e-mail message that the resignation is effective on March 18. 

He was a Federal 100 awardee in 2010.



About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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