Why does the White House need a private-sector "tech surge" to repair its wretched Obamacare website failures? Weren't all of the president's myriad IT czars and their underlings supposed to ensure that taxpayers got the most effective, innovative, cutting-edge and secure technology for their money?
Now is the perfect time for an update on Obama's top government titans of information technology. As usual, "screw up, move up" is standard bureaucratic operating procedure.
Let's start with the "federal chief information officer." In 2009, Obama named then 34-year-old "whiz kid" Vivek Kundra to the post overseeing $80 billion in government IT spending. At 21, Kundra was convicted of misdemeanor theft. He stole a handful of men's shirts from a J.C. Penney's department store and ran from police in a failed attempt to evade arrest. Whitewashing the petty thief's crimes, Obama instead effused about his technology czar's "depth of experience in the technology arena."
Just as he was preparing to take the federal job, an FBI search warrant was issued at Kundra's workplace. He was serving as the chief technology officer of the District of Columbia. Two of Kundra's underlings, Yusuf Acar and Sushil Bansal, were charged in an alleged scheme of bribery, kickbacks, ghost employees and forged timesheets. Kundra went on leave for five days and was then reinstated after the feds informed him that he was neither a subject nor a target of the investigation.
As I noted in my 2009 book, "Culture of Corruption," city and federal watchdogs had identified a systemic lack of controls in Kundra's office. Veteran D.C. newspaper columnist Jonetta Rose Barras reported that Acar "was consistently promoted by his boss, Vivek Kundra, receiving with each move increasing authority over sensitive information and operating with little supervision." Yet, Team Obama emphasized that Kundra had no idea what was going on in his workplace, which employed about 300 workers.
A mere 29 months after taking the White House job, Kundra left for a cushy fellowship at Harvard University. In January 2012, he snagged an executive position at Salesforce.com, which touted his "demonstrated track record of driving innovation."
In 2011, Obama appointed former Microsoft executive and FCC managing director Steven VanRoekel to succeed Kundra. At the time, he promised "to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government." Mission not accomplished.