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Congress / TECHNOLOGY

Ex-FCC Official to Become Federal CIO

August 4, 2011

Former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel will succeed Vivek Kundra as the federal chief information officer, President Obama announced Thursday.

VanRoekel was also managing director at the Federal Communications Commission, where he overhauled the agency website that aimed to make data more accessible.

VanRoekel will become the government's top official on information technology matters, situated within the Office of Management and Budget.

Kundra announced earlier this year that he is leaving the administration for Harvard University, where he will carry out a fellowship with a focus on researching cloud computing, open data, and open government -- issues he emphasized during his tenure in the Obama administration.

The role of federal CIO is influential as the government seeks to use technology more efficiently to save cash. Such initiatives as the transition to store government data in "the cloud" allows the for the closing of costly data centers, a strategy Kundra strongly backed.

VanRoekel announced his departure from the FCC two months ago and currently is executive director at the Agency for International Development. He worked for Microsoft for 15 years, at one point as an assistant for co-founder Bill Gates.

The position is not subject to Senate confirmation. VanRoekel told The New York Times that he intends to build on the work Kundra has done. "We're trying to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government," he said.

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