Vivek Kundra, Possible Obama Tech CzarJanuary 6th, 2009 — Chris Van Buren
Check out this interesting Post piece about Vivek Kundra, the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer. His gangantuan task is accelerating the implementation of innovative technology, despite an often dilatory Washington bureaucracy. What makes Kundra so exciting, and what has caught the eye of the Obama folks as a tech policy advisor, is his desire to use technology to open and speed up local governance by utilizing the power of social networking and Web 2.0 technology.
Instead of contracting with expensive software developers, Kundra used a YouTube-based contest to crowdsource the software he needed. He also has plans to digitize the vast reams of the government data about crime rates and police response times, which are currently available, but poorly accessible. This has naturally rankled some bureaucrats, but I think there is some potential in his proposals, if not for more transparent, then atleast for more efficient local government.
Vivek has the mind of a private sector tech start-up balanced with his commitment to public service. I think that puts him quite clearly into the orbit of Obama’s vision of the internet and citizenship (see my piece from a few months ago for more), which emphasizes broad access, open information and creative tech solutions to democratic problems. Here’s hoping Obama might even tap Kundra tomorrow for the much hyped technology czar position.