President Obama named Vivek Kundra the nation’s first Chief Information Officer on Thursday. "Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position,” said the president. “I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. “As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible.”

Kundra formerly served as the District of Columbia’s Chief Technology Officer.

As DC’s CTO, Kundra oversaw technology projects and budgets for 86 agencies. In his role as national CIO, he will work to make government computing more cost effective and make the government more transparent, overseeing the government’s adoption of 2.0 tools like YouTube and Twitter.

Because of his efforts in DC, Kundra was named 2008 IT Executive of the Year.

The new CIO will control a $71 billion annual technology budget. He will also oversee the security of government networks, and ensure that they work together. As CIO, he will have the power to launch new systems and stop those he deems ineffective.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Kundra said he will push the government to adopt cloud computing. He wants to make government computing more up to date, as he believes private sector is more advanced in that area than the government is.

Kundra also detailed the creation of a new site,, which will store all the information the government collects, and addressed the difficulties in using technology to render government more participatory.

“A two-way interaction between the government and its citizens will require a massive transformation by the government, on the back end, to ensure the government can deal with this new reality,” Kundra said.

President Obama also plans on naming a national Chief Technology Officer, who will work closely with Kundra.

By Mark Alvarez