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At PdF11, Vivek Kundra Reiterates Open Government Cost Savings, Importance of the Cloud

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, June 7 2011

The federal government should continue its move to cloud computing and hosting services, for cost savings and to avoid a reliance on outdated infrastructure, U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said earlier this morning at Personal Democracy Forum 2011.

Kundra referred to a federal information technology focus on infrastructure like data centers as "digital oil." During Kundra's term as CIO, the General Services Administration has moved federal employees to GMail (and there was a recent attack on the personal accounts of U.S. officials). But Kundra's ideas for cloud services aren't limited to third-party services. NASA, for example, has its own computing cloud.

Kundra also emphasized the need for a more collaborative relationship between government and citizens, moving "from e-government to we-government," borrowing a term that appears often on techPresident. But he said nothing of some of the obstacles in the way of that move, such as a need for increased data quality in open datasets, which Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) brought up in a talk later the same day, or cutbacks the White House faces to spending on open government projects.

Kundra's remarks — in the video above — also reiterated his previous announcement that making federal IT spending more transparent through his IT Dashboard project created a cost savings of $3 billion. He said those savings came from eliminating some projects, changing scope on others, and accelerating timelines on still more.

They come at a time when the federal government's fund for e-government work, which finances open government initiatives like data.gov, is facing severe cutbacks. The White House asked for $35 million for the fund in the 2011 fiscal year but received just $8 million, spiking any real chance for significant enhancements, InformationWeek reported recently.