Kundra announcement today, WP says - but the details?

Thursday - 3/5/2009, 7:34am EST

Vivek Kundra

Vivek Kundra

The WP reports this morning what we, of course, have been telling you for week — here and here and here and here — that DC CTO Vivek Kundra is joining the White House. Yes, we’ve been saying that for more than a month, for goodness sake. (So am I the guy who cried wolf? It’s actually difficult to be ahead on this because it has been so undefined.)

The story raises many additional questions — and we’ll all be watching the details, and it will be interesting to see how many details we actually get.

There are many curious parts of the WP report. For example, this:

It’s a job that did not exist in previous administrations; Obama, who leveraged social networks, text messages and other Internet tools on the campaign trail, promised to create a technology czar with the aim of helping the government operate more efficiently.

The newly created federal position will operate under the auspices of the White House. Kundra, 34, is expected to oversee how government agencies purchase and use information technology and will be in charge of all federal technology spending. He also will be responsible for making sure agencies’ networks and systems work together and share information while maintaining security and privacy standards.

Obama also plans to appoint a chief technology officer who will work closely with Kundra, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcements are not yet official. The exact job description for that position has not yet been announced, but the chief technology officer may focus more on overall technology policy while the chief information officer will handle day-to-day spending and operations within agency projects.

I don’t know what the WP is hearing, but… it will be interesting to see if this is a new position or whether it is the OMB administrator of e-government and information technology. It will also be interesting to see what they say about the ObamaCTO job and how all these technology roles will fit together.

There is a lot of buzz that this is going to be the federal government CIO. Team Obama may call it a CIO, but this will be one of these dual-named situations — the OMB administrator of e-government and information technology is a statutory post. It is written in to the E-Government Act of 2002. So Team Obama may call Kundra the CIO, but it is not a newly created job.

Here is the provision in the E-Gov Act:

To provide effective leadership of Federal Government efforts to develop and promote electronic Government services and processes by establishing an Administrator of a new Office of Electronic Government within the Office of Management and Budget.

The other issue that is creating a lot of buzz is what this will mean for the CTO. As we’ve been hearing for weeks, it appears that the Obama CTO will be in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, but that the real IT authority will rest with Kundra.

Again, it is unclear how many details we’ll get in the announcement today and if Team Obama will detail how the management of IT will actually work.

Stay tuned… and we’ll be covering it on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris this afternoon from 3-7p ET.