June 17, 2011 – Vivek Kundra, the first federal chief information officer, announced Tuesday he would be stepping down from that post for a fellowship position at Harvard University.

In his two-and-a-half years as White House CIO, Kundra cut IT spending by an estimated $3 billion with moves that included shuttering data centers, prompting government agencies to move email and other operations to the cloud, and updating security and infrastructure.

Kundra’s agenda was hardened into an 18-month, 25-point plan released last December. That plan specified increases in shared services and virtualization, streamlined governance and accountability, increased engagement with the industry, and designated program managers and IT acquisitions for all major federal IT programs.

Kundra’s IT plan will be carried out as a new federal CIO is sought, according to a White House news release.

In mid-August, Kundra will start a role as joint fellow at Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In a release from that Harvard group, Kundra said his research zeal will be driven by the same federal initiatives with cybersecurity, transparency through technology and cutting waste.

“Our government and its citizens are invariably connected through a vast and complex technology infrastructure rife with opportunities as well as risks,” said Kundra in the Harvard release.

Kundra came to the federal government from CTO roles in Virginia and Washington, D.C., and later as part of President Barack Obama’s transition team. When President Obama appointed Kundra to the federal post in March 2009, he said Kundra would “bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position.”

In a release announcing Kundra’s move, the White House noted that his efforts have been replicated by 16 countries around the world, part of the reason he was awarded by the World Economic Forum as a 2011 Young Global Leader.

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