White House Taps Former Microsoft Exec As Next Federal CIO


A former top Microsoft executive will be the next federal CIO, the White House announced Thursday.

Steven VanRoekel, who worked at Microsoft from 1994 to 2009 and was most recently senior director for Microsoft's Windows Server and Tools division, will become the Federal Chief Information Officer and Administrator, Office of Electronic Government, Office of Management and Budget.

VanRoekel replaces highly regarded federal CIO Vivek Kundra, who stepped down from his post earlier this summer to take a fellowship position at Harvard University.

Kundra, who was the first executive named to the newly created position, was a major force behind the government's adoption of cloud computing technologies, and several public sector solution providers at the time expressed disappointment that Kundra would not be continuing on.

Among the highlights of Kundra's two-and-half-year stint in the role is a push by the federal government to close 800 of its 2,000 data centers over the next four years, a plan that Kundra's team announced in mid-June. By using cloud computing services, Kundra said at the time, the government called save an additional $5 billion a year and make the process of buying technology for various agencies far less cumbersome.

Kundra was also a proponent of the US Federal IT Dashboard, a publicly available Web site, launched by Kundra's team in July 2009, that tracks how the government spends money on federal technology projects and the progress of those projects.

Kundra's replacement is no stranger to government, or IT.

Following his time at Microsoft, VanRoekel, who was also previously DIrector of Web Services and an assistant to former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, became managing director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2009. His current role is executive director of citizen and organizational engagement at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

VanRoekel told The New York Times Thursday that the work Kundra did to transform how the federal government procures and deploys its IT will continue.

"We're trying to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government," VanRoekel told the Times.

VanRoekel's appointment within the Obama Administration was announced alongside those of Maria Lombardo, the new Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, and William Sisk, a member of the Committee for Purchase from People Who are Blind or Severely Disabled.

"I am grateful these accomplished men and women have agreed to join this Administration, and I am confident they will serve ably in these important roles," said President Obama in a statement. "I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years."