Home Former Microsoft Exec Steven VanRoekel Named New Federal CIO

Former Microsoft Exec Steven VanRoekel Named New Federal CIO

The United States is getting a new Chief Information Officer. Steven VanRoekel will steps into the shoes vacated by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra who is leaving the post to take a position at Harvard. VanRoekel worked for Microsoft for 15 years and was once an assistant to Bill Gates, according to the New York Times.

VanRoekel is leaving his position as the managing director of the Federal Communications Commission. He joined the FCC shortly after president Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and has helped the FCC become perhaps the most forward thinking departments in the federal government in how it uses the Web.

O’Reilly Media Government 2.0 Washington correspondent (and some-time ReadWriteWeb contributor) Alex Howard wrote this morning that VanRoekel “brought a .com mentality to the FCC, including a perspective that ‘everything should be an API.'” VanRoekel was instrumental in bringing social media to the FCC (the @FCC Twitter account is one of the most interactive and informative in all the federal government).

VanRoekel told Howard in April that, “the experiences that live outside of FCC.gov should interact back into it. In a perfect world, no one should have to visit the FCC website.” In that scenario, FCC data would be ingrained into a Web service or app.

VanRoekel takes on a big job. Kundra was the first federal CIO ever and in his two-plus years on the job only scratched the surface of changing how the government uses technology. The federal government has an $80 billion IT budget (or, just about the entire cash holdings of Apple, the second largest corporation by market cap in the world). Kundra was a great strategist. He advocated for cloud computing and transparent government, bringing projects like Data.gov and the federal IT Dashboard to the public. The federal government now plans on eliminating 800 of its 2000 or so data centers (with about a quarter of that coming from the Department of Defense).

VanRoekel looks like he has the skills and mindset to put Kundra’s strategies into action. With a couple years in the federal government under his belt, VanRoekel will not be surprised at the often run down state of federal IT. The goal, set forth by Kundra, will be to make the federal government as productive and agile as the private sector that iterates productive technology much faster despite less resources.

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