Kundra's parting gift? 10 lessons in IT management

In what Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) called the outgoing federal CIO’s swan song on Capitol Hill, Vivek Kundra shared 10 key principles that have improved transparency and federal IT management.

Kundra offered the lessons June 14 to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform Subcommittee.

They are:

  • Build end-to-end digital systems to reduce errors and protect the integrity of the data across the federal enterprise.
  • Build once, use often.
  • Tap into the "golden sources" of data. Don’t rely on derivative databases or data derived from other data sources. Go directly to the transactional systems that do the business on a day-to-day basis.
  • Release data in a machine-readable format and encourage third-party applications.
  • Employ common data standards. Think about what would have happened if railroads across the country had used different standards in terms of railroad track gauges.
  • Use simple, upfront data validations.
  • Release data as close to real time as possible.
  • Engineer systems to reduce burdens.
  • Protect privacy and security. This is critical, especially in the age of Facebook and Twitter. You can create a mosaic effect without really thinking about it. It’s one thing to release data when it comes to health care on a state level, and other thing to release it on a zip-code level.
  • Provide equal access to data and incorporate user feedback on an ongoing basis.


About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Tue, Aug 23, 2011

He was a marketing hype man in the bully pulpit. Better stick that baseball card back into the water for the battleship's next course correction. (reference to the old sarcastic euphemism about trying to turn a battleship with a baseball card...)

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 The Observer

Some of these concepts are as old as the dinosaur. For example, "Build once, use often" is a recasting of developing reusable objects. Also, "Use simple, upfront data validations" is just another way of validating the data before it is transmitted to the db server to enhance performance. Lesson 11, leave town before you have to implement any of it.

Sat, Jul 16, 2011 Gary United States

What a selfish jerk! Come into office to help the American people or to serve your own needs? That's Vivek. A self serving Indian guy who could careless about the IT needs for the 21st Century in the US. I don't understand someone who gets such a vital role, and leaves to pursue selfish goals without finishing the task he was set to do. Take a hike, and don't come back.

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 Jack

Concur DC Fed. If the only thing he's leaving us is 10 "lessons" what did we actually get out of this position? A LOT of hype about cloud and data. The cloud ended up being nothing but vapor rifled with security and privacy worries while the data projects were almost worthless due to data quality issues. 50 Million spent to post low quality data sets online? Perhaps we should start cutting waste there. In the early days Kundra was the big cloud advocate stating how cloud would solve all security concerns (As if feds hadn't already visited that during the everything SaaS period in the late 90's.) He mocked the federal IT workforce by insinuating they were not up to speed and behind on technology and security. Now he's gone 180 and has GSA creating FedRamp (which to the best of my knowledge to date has yet to authorize any GSA offering) and stating it will solve the security problems. Most agencies had already started visualizing systems into what could appear to be a "private" cloud at their own agencies. Nothing new here... To his credit he did kill some projects in desparate need of the axe but that's to be expected. Shakespeare comes to mind: "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Thanks for the Harvard "lessons" Mr. Kundra and may academia hold better execution of your plans than practical applications.

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 DC Fed Washington

That's the kind of pap he's been feeding a congressional oversight committee? I know things have to be simplified for congressionals. But, you take out the reference to facebook and twitter and this is all motherhood and apple pie you could have heard from an IT "leader" back in the 80's. For such an innovative thinker, this was really a profound revelation to impart on his way out the door . He really set the bar high for his successor.

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