Former Microsoft exec Steven VanRoekel becomes U.S. CIO

Steven VanRoekel

The White House has named current FCC managing director and former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel as the new Federal Chief Information Officer. VanRoekel takes the place of Vivek Kundra, the first U.S> CIO, who left position effective August 1 after more than two years in the post.

Prior to his role at the FCC, VanRoekel worked at Microsoft for 15 years, serving as everything from Bill Gates’ personal assistant to the senior director of Microsoft’s Windows Server and Tools Division.

Although the role of U.S. CIO is a new position created under the Obama administration, VanRoekel will have some big shoes to fill as he takes over for Vivek Kundra, who launched a number of initiatives and information transparency efforts during his tenure. One of the most visible projects is Data.gov, which offers essentially unprecedented public access to Federal information and data with an eye towards enabling Web-based and mobile applications.

Kundra also spearheaded USASpending.gov tracking Federal awards and the Federal IT Dashboard that tracked how U.S. Federal agencies use their IT funding. Kunda has also been pushing federal agencies aim new IT initiatives at cloud-based solutions rather than traditional IT infrastructure, and launched a far-reaching data center consolidation plans that has stirred up some controversy and criticism, particularly that it may be putting too many of the government’s eggs in one basket, creating single points of failure for many government services and activities.

The U.S. CIO position is part of the Office of Management and Budget; unlike cabinet offices and judgeships, the position is filled by presidential appointment without being subject to confirmation by the Senate. President Obama also created the role of U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) within the Office of Science and Technology policy; the CTO position is currently held by Aneesh Chopra.

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