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FCW Insider: Should Kundra stay or go?

So far, we see no consensus among our readers about the future of Vivek Kundra as the federal government's first chief information officer.

Numerous readers have posted comments on a recent story that analyzed his future prospects. As reported last week, Kundra, former chief technology officer for Washington, D.C., took a leave of absence after the FBI arrested one of his former D.C. employees on allegations involving contract kickbacks (see "FCW Analysis: Kundra's job is now in question").

No one is suggesting that Kundra has been implicated in any crime. But some sources we talked to suggested that the situation reflects poorly on Kundra's management abilities, raising questions about his fitness to serve as the federal CIO.

What do you think? Here are excerpts from some of the comments we received:

Anti-Kundra:

* This is not "guilt by association" but incompetence by inaction. If Mr. Kendra finds the oversight of 300 employees above his abilities just imagine the waste, fraud and corruption that would be possible in a Kendra run Federal CIO department. It is time for President Obama to find some qualified assistants instead of retreads and hacks from earlier administrations.

* Either Mr. Kundra is guilty of willfully participating in the alleged scheme or his is guilty of incompetence for not detecting it. Given that either of the two choices above make him guilty, then he should resign and let someone else take the post who is not guilty or hopefully incompetent.

* So, let's say a law enforcement official were nominated for a post and it turned out that one of the 300 officers under his/her control was on the take, that would disqualify that individual? The "fraud" that was being perpetrated seemed to be the sort of thing that someone in accounting should have caught. I doubt the head of the department involves him/herself in such details or they wouldn't have any time left to do anything else.

Pro-Kundra:

* "Guilt by association" is about as un-American a concept as I can imagine.

* Unless there is some evidence that Kudra either participated in the criminal enterprise or was negligent in failing to discover it he should be able to do his job.

* Kundra does not deserve to be tried in the court of public opinion by disgruntled conservatives who still have not got over the fact the majority of Americans rejected them in the November elections.

* Let the man do his job. No one is totally beyond reproach. If we delved as deep into everyone working in public sector's background, goodness only knows what we'd find. This innovative and brilliant man has done nothing wrong.

* The fraud that happened in Kundra's office may not have been caught by a more seasoned manager, but my educated guess is that it would have been more likely to be caught by one much more experienced than he with observing, interacting, and leading his/her workforce.

And then here's a different take altogether:

* The lowest cost to the taxpayer will be for this position to go unfilled. The addition of this post lays on yet more tier of bureaucracy with lofty goals for information sharing. What the media and public are often not aware of is that each agency is charged with controlling data which may not readily be shared with other agencies. In fact, much of the data controlled by each agency has either no value or no legitimate use by another agency. Beyond the data sharing, the IT needs of each agency are addressed by an internal CIO. Unless these alternate billets are eliminated, the top dog CIO will simply be adding more red tape to an already over-burdened system.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Mar 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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