Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel has been named to the federal CIO slot by President Obama, where he'll succeed Vivek Kundra.
Former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel has been tapped
to become the nation's second Federal CIO. He will replace Vivek Kundra, who
accepted a fellowship at Harvard University.
VanRoekel worked at Microsoft for 15
years, eventually rising to senior director for the Windows Server and Tools
Division. After leaving the company in 2009, he served as the Federal Communications
Commission's managing director, before leaping to USAID in 2011.
In an Aug. 4 statement
from the White House, President Barack Obama expressed confidence in the
abilities of VanRoekel and two other appointees to Administration posts. "I
look forward to working with them in the coming months and years," he wrote.
VanRoekel's job will likely offer some considerable
challenges. The federal CIO is responsible for the policy and strategic
planning of federal information technology investments. With the U.S.
government looking to tighten its financial belt, such investments will likely
find themselves subjected to intense scrutiny.
Certainly VanRoekel will find himself wrestling with a
smaller budget, rising IT security threats, and considerable amounts of aging
infrastructure. Kundra left behind a plan for improving federal IT, which
included some ideas familiar to anyone involved in enterprise computing: the
introduction of consumer devices into the government workflow, for instance,
and increased use of the cloud.
Before he left, Kundra specified that all federal agencies
must migrate at least one system to a hosted environment in 2011. Some had
already taken steps to fulfill that request, with the Treasury Department
moving its Website to Amazon EC2 in January. However, it's unclear whether his
broader initiatives will remain intact, or if VanRoekel plans on shifting the
tiller in a whole new direction.
Federal IT has experienced some high-end shakeups of late:
Randy Vickers, director of the U.S. Computer
Emergency Response Team, resigned July 22 with no explanation. The group is
designed to blunt cyber-threats to federal networks and the .gov domain, both
of which have been subjected to high-profile attacks of late. Philip Reitinger,
deputy undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at
the Department of Homeland Security, also resigned in May after the White House
released its cyber-security plan.
Security, the cloud and federal IT infrastructure constitute
just a few of the issues confronting VanRoekel in the months to come. No
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.