WASHINGTON – Saving money was on White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra’s mind Thursday,and he outlined ways to do that by streamlining the government’s information technology infrastructure.
His presentation was part of “The Tech Class of 2011,” sponsored by Politico and Microsoft,which hosted it at its sleek new office.
Kundra discussed the need for government to reform IT on all levels and incorporate consumer technology. He described his first day as CIO in the White House as traveling back “about a decade in time.”
“There was this huge gap in the White House itself,and what I was seeing in terms of the explosion of technology in the consumer space and what was going on in states and cities across the country,” he said. “That is why I focused very heavily on forming how we implement technology across the public sector.”
Kundra said the government can streamline its IT infrastructure and save money by moving to cloud storage,shifting computing resources and storage to a centralized network rather than on individual computers or in-house servers.
“Agencies have already begun to realize the savings when it comes to the shift towards the cloud,” he said.
He said switching email to the cloud for two agencies saved federal government about $40 million. “Imagine the possibilities when we start going after financial systems inside the federal government,” Kundra said.
Cloud computing has become a growing trend in the consumer sector,with companies such as Google and Apple releasing cloud-based offerings. But Gmail,Google’s cloud-based email service,has fallen victim to hackers who recently obtained access to hundreds of accounts,including some used by government employees,the company said Thursday in a written statement on its blog.
Kundra noted,however,that cloud computing shouldn’t be singled out,as many other services the government runs are also vulnerable to attack.
“In some cases,I would argue that there are some agencies that I would actually want in the cloud because their security practices are horrible,” he said.
Matthew Hussey,telecommunications,commerce,science and education adviser to Sen. Olympia Snowe,R-Maine,stressed the importance of technology savvy-decision makers to make sound policy.
“Poor policy can be detrimental,” he said.
The event was moderated by Politico technology reporters Kim Hart and Tony Romm.
Reach reporter Jorge Valens at [email protected] or 202-326-9871
SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.