Federal CIO Kundra Emerges Unscathed From Dvorak Bashing - InformationWeek

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8/12/2009
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Federal CIO Kundra Emerges Unscathed From Dvorak Bashing

On the Internet, stories get reported, and sometimes debunked, with blinding speed. It's transparency in real time, and Federal CIO Vivek Kundra now knows what it feels like.

On the Internet, stories get reported, and sometimes debunked, with blinding speed. It's transparency in real time, and Federal CIO Vivek Kundra now knows what it feels like.In a blog post, IT columnist John Dvorak questioned the accuracy of Kundra's bio, including his educational and professional background as described, but it took only a few quick calls to defuse Dvorak's claims. The Office of Management and Budget and the University of Maryland University College answered my fact-checking queries, and it turns out that Kundra's resume is clean, not the fabrication implied by Dvorak.

But maybe this should serve as a lesson to Kundra and other Obama administration officials who are repeating the mantra of "transparency." There's no official bio of Kundra to be found anywhere on the OMB Web site, but there should be. Kundra and other senior government officials should practice what they preach by making their educational and work backgrounds easily accessible to the public.

Since his original post on Wednesday morning, Dvorak has updated it to be closer to the facts, but his allegations are worth addressing. He implied that Kundra hadn't graduated from the University of Maryland with a master's in information technology and wasn't an adjunct faculty member there, as stated in the bio Kundra used when he was CTO of Washington, D.C.

Dvorak apparently only checked the records of the University of Maryland, College Park, where Kundra got his bachelor's degree. There are 11 universities in the University of Maryland system, including the University of Maryland University College, where I confirmed that Kundra graduated with an M.S. in information systems management in the spring of 2001 and taught as an adjunct faculty member that fall. Dvorak also criticized Kundra for claiming experience as a CEO since his company was a one-man operation. But let's face it, many start-ups begin as one-person shops where the founder takes on the CEO title. An OMB spokesman referred to Dvorak's allegations as "gross distortions and baseless lies."

It's true that the University of Maryland is sometimes thought of as only encompassing the College Park campus, but that's the narrow view. I have friends who have degrees from or have taken classes at the University of Maryland University College and the University of Maryland Baltimore who refer to both simply as the University of Maryland. I'll be starting at the University of Maryland School of Law as an evening student in the fall, and a business card on my desk for an official at the University of Maryland Baltimore identifies her only as an employee of the University of Maryland.

Transparency can be a double-edged sword, as Kundra and Dvorak have both learned. Government leaders like Kundra can set the record straight by disclosing their background information, and fully. After all, we're paying their salaries, and we' like to know who we're hiring.

In the interest of transparency and full disclosure on my part, Kundra will be a keynote speaker at the InformationWeek 500 Conference and at the Gov 2.0 Summit (which is co-sponsored by InformationWeek's parent company TechWeb) next month.

Updated: I'm not taking credit for this at all, but Kundra's new bio has suddenly appeared in full online on a newly redesigned version of the federal CIO Council Website.

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