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Microsoft Exec Named New Federal CIO

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra will be replaced by former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel. This comes after Kundra announced his departure in June.

VanRoekel began his 15-year career at Microsoft in 1994 as a premier support and presales technical advisor. He subsequently served as a speech and strategy assistant to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. In 2002, VanRoekel was named the director of Microsoft's Web Services and Platform Strategy group. His last role at the company, which he held from 2004 to 2009, was the senior director of the Windows Server Solutions group.

VanRoekel
Steven VanRoekel. Source: Microsoft

After leaving Microsoft in 2009, VanRoekel joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as managing director with a mission to revamp the commission's online presence, improve electronic reporting and transparency, and release FCC information to the public more effectively. Speaking at the OpenGovDC conference in June, VanRoekel said that when he arrived at the FCC, the former FCC.gov Web site -- which had won awards for excellence in the 1990s -- had become sprawling, difficult to navigate and too confusing for average visitors.

VanRoekel spearheaded the $1.35 million FCC.gov revamp using crowdsourcing tools, internal blogs and other social media to engage FCC employees during the process. He also tasked the Web site revamping team to visit the FCC call center in Gettysburg, Pa. to learn what types of information people are seeking from the agency. VanRoekel said one of his greatest tasks at the FCC was overcoming cultural inertia and listening to customers, especially the million unique Web site visitors each month.

VanRoekel is a proponent of collaboration between government and commercial technology companies. He coined the term ".cov" to describe his aim of merging commercial and government domains into a new collaborative and efficient environment, and strongly advocates use of XML and API to foster collaborative systems.

"Every piece of data should use XML," VanRoekel said. "Every access should be an API."

During his two-year tenure at the FCC, VanRoekel restructured the FCC Web site on open source Drupal technology and moved the site to the cloud. He left the FCC in June, and recently has been serving as an executive director for the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he leads a citizen engagement and participation project.

According to a statement from the White House, besides taking the Federal CIO position, VanRoekel will also be appointed as the administrator of the Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget. VanRoekel, who could not be reached directly by press time, appeared to confirm his appointment to Federal CIO by listing his title as "United States Chief Information Officer" on his Twitter account (@stevenvDC).

Kundra, whose portfolio at the White House included programs for innovation, datacenter consolidation, cloud computing, IT management dashboards, segmented IT development and Web 2.0 platforms, recently announced he had accepted a position at Harvard University, effective this month.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for 1105 Media's Washington Technology.

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