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Thursday, July 23, 2009

White House CIO says 'tectonic shift" is needed

White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra knows change will not be easy, especially when trying to reprogram government agencies in terms of transparency, National Journal Online reported. In June, he released a Web-based IT dashboard that showed how government IT projects were progressing. It shed light on 45 Veterans Affairs projects that were lagging behind schedule or over budget. All were temporarily halted.
White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra believes a "huge, tectonic shift" is needed for government agencies to accept a new era of open government, which has become a major mission of the Obama administration. The bottom line, he told a high-tech conference on Tuesday, is that "at the end of the day we're stewards of taxpayer dollars and we need to be open and transparent around using that money." The latest project to launch in that space was in June when he unveiled a Web-based IT dashboard that sheds light on the performance of IT projects across government. As a result of that initiative, the Veterans Affairs Department said it was temporarily halting 45 projects that were found to be behind schedule or over budget.

"It's okay if a project is behind schedule as long as we understand what is causing the delay," Kundra said. "We need to understand the root cause so we can solve the problem." At the VA, the worst offender was 110 percent more expensive than planned and 17 months behind schedule. The agency plans to audit all the projects in question to determine whether additional resources or new management teams can get them back on track. "If we didn't highlight this and make data available, we would be continuing to plow good money after bad money," Kundra explained. Putting data out there through the IT dashboard and other initiatives forces agencies to take action and drive change across government, he said.
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