Updated: Earlier this morning, veteran technology journalist John Dvorak posted an article on his blog with the headline: Is U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO) Vivek Kundra a Phony? The report investigates Kundra’s background — both educational and professional — and finds some gaps. For instance, Dvorak […]

Updated: Earlier this morning, veteran technology journalist John Dvorak posted an article on his blog with the headline: Is U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO) Vivek Kundra a Phony? The report investigates Kundra’s background — both educational and professional — and finds some gaps. For instance, Dvorak couldn’t find any records of Kundra’s Masters degree in information technology. Update: Chip Cassano, a University of Maryland University College spokesman, confirmed that Kundra graduated from the school with a Masters of Science in Information Systems Management. There are several other issues — you are better off reading the entire article.

It is quite a shocker: I recently chatted with Kundra about cloud computing. I reached out to the White House and a spokesperson dismissed the article as “a gross smear” on Kundra and called it “highly inaccurate.” The spokesperson said that Kundra has excelled at his job as the U.S. CIO.

According to the spokesperson, the doubts might have arisen from the fact that Kundra went to University of Maryland’s University College instead of College Park. Those are two different colleges within the University of Maryland system. “If you are going to make such charges, make sure you call us and take the time to educate yourself,” said the spokesperson. “It is a lie.”

Dvorak is just flat-out wrong — or at least that was the gist of the conversation I just had with Kundra. He called back and said that it was clear that “someone was spinning partial truths.” He welcomed anyone to check with University of Maryland’s University College and said they will find that not only did he graduate from the University College, but also that he was adjunct faculty member. He was an undergraduate at the University of Maryland’s College Park location. That confusion is reflected on Kundra’s Wikipedia bio. As noted above, we checked with the UMUC and they told us that Kundra did indeed graduate in 2001 with an MS in information Systems Management. When I asked Kundra about his startup, Creostar, he said he never claimed it to be a billion-dollar company. He started it before getting a gig with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

By Om Malik

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  1. @Om,

    Typo… should read “…a Phony?”

    1. @Curtis — Very much a typo, and fixed — thanks so much. best, Carolyn

    2. Damn we got eagle-eyed readers. catching mistakes in real time. thanks @curtis

      1. @Om/Carolyn,

        The article is quite shocking indeed. Not sure what to make of the findings, though academic and career fraud is prevalent not only in the US, but throughout the valley in particular. (Disclosure… my wife is a search executive for VP and above level talent). My hope is that the accusations are investigated thoroughly. Either way, this could be a serious “black eye” for the new role of US CIO.


  2. Friends of Dave (friendsofdave) ‘s status on Wednesday, 12-Aug-09 17:18:35 UTC – Identi.ca Wednesday, August 12, 2009
  3. Wow.. unbeleivable ! Dvorak’s research seems fairly detailed. What on earth was the administration thinking ?

  4. I thought the article was terribly sourced and speculative. U Maryland has several college campuses and the author could have used degree-verification from the wrong one, though the degree question is a very important question. The rest, though, is silly… Dvorak claims Kundra can’t call himself CEO of a company when he was the only employee?! And Kundra did a great job in DC. Who cares if he likes Twitter? (which Dvorak criticizes). It was a smear post.

    1. I attended the UMUC graduation ceremony at the Comcast Center on the College Park campus. Maryland students everywhere in College Park–hard to say who’s a UMUC student and who’s a UMD student. Everyone lives in the same proximity to campus. Tuition costs are the same. They’re all pretty much Maryland students.

      Someone had better tell all of the students attending the University of Maryland’s University College they are not in the University of Maryland college system… At least it would appear that John C. Dvorak says they are not… ;-)

  5. Snapple/Curtis

    Just updated the post with a statement from the White House. I am speaking with Kundra in a minute as well. Not sure if the research was accurate or not.

    1. @Om,

      Good to know, as I noted previously, the accusations should be investigated thoroughly. I am not in any way implying that Kundra has committed any sort of fraud, though fraud in the valley does exist.


      1. Please. Almost everyone who read this and the Dvorak blog went to town on him without giving it a second thought. Amazing how willing people are to smear someone’s reputation. I felt like I was reading something out of the National Enquirer. And Om should have picked up on some of the silliness and scorn in the original post when re-printing it.

    2. I’m hoping this is all just a mis-understanding!
      I love listening to Dvorak on TWiT and reading GigaOM

  6. Thank you for doing the due diligence of simply calling him, Om. I shared Dvorak’s post but did so with the hope that journalists would debunk or verify the accusations he made with regards to credentials. Now, Gautham Nadesh at NextGov as done so, posting the facts of his academic record:

    The rest of Dvorak’s post consist of more opinion than specific data points. I suspect the rest of it will be dissected thoroughly in real-time as well.

  7. Comic Strip Blogger Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    alright, so Chip Cassano from University of Maryland University has confirmed that Vivek Kundra has MS in IT but about other accusations of Dvorak: that Vivek has no publications, no achievements in science or business that his company was one-person company only.

    Finally: Om, please disclose that you are of the same ethnic origins of Kundra and that’s why you are defending him! Otherwise you are not better than Dvorak (which has similar ethnic origins as meself = Slavic).

    1. Wow, Comic Strip Blogger: so it’s your assumption that anyone of shared ethnicity speaks only from prejudice? Disclaimers are supposed to inhibit partisanship, not excuse it!

      1. Comic Strip Blogger jrep Wednesday, August 12, 2009

        it is not *my* assumption but if you see the photo from Dvorak’s article, you will notice that Dvorak implies that Vivek got that job thanks to his Indian connections.

    2. I’m confused. How is “He was the only employee of his company” an “accusation”? I’m the only employee of my company. Does that mean the past two years of my life aren’t worth mentioning on my resume? Should I change my job title from “Founder” to “Only person working here”?

      Instead of an accusation, it’s more like a low blow. Dvorak seems to be making fun of Kundra for trying to start a business on his own.

    3. @com strip blogger…. I am not sure how to respond to you. My ethnic origins are in my name – i don’t need to hide behind a name like “comic strip blogger”

      Secondly, in your world, asking someone to respond to a story is called “defending” I get that.

      1. Comic Strip Blogger Om Malik Wednesday, August 12, 2009

        Om, your ethnic origins are NOT in your name, just do google search like “malik site:.pl” and you will see that this name is used also in Poland – a Slavic country. I also knew personally Polish people with this name. So, just to avoid any misunderstandings you should state something like “Disclaimer: author of this post is of the same ethnicity as Vivek, so some (involuntary) bias towards Vivek might be possible.”

        No, asking somebody to respond is not defending. However as I said: reading your texts that have something to do with India, I have a feeling that you are slightly biased, even if it is involuntarily.

        By the way: boss of FCC has Polish name but he is not Polish, so don’t tell me about “my origins are in my name”.

      2. @Comic Strip Blogger — You are being foolish.

      3. Yes Comicstripper is not foolish but polish

    4. @comic strip blogger
      Wow , then every blogger in US should disclose their “nationality” or “race” before writing about any topic under the sun. You are slime ball. Picture of three white goverment officials doesn’t mean they got job because of their racial connection..

      @OM, don’t even engage or respond to this racist slimeball .

      1. Comic Strip Blogger Venkatesh Thursday, August 13, 2009

        @Venkatesh : *you* are racist because you think that Vivek is better – cannot be criticized – just because he is Indian. I am not a racist, I’ve only pointed out that Om is not objective whenever he writes about Indian people or companies.

        @Om : you see it now? No wonder some companies prefer to hire Europeans because they will not be calling anybody who dares to crticize their work a “racist”. And Om, do you, yes you Om, *really* think that Vivek is competent enough to be CIO of the whole USA?

      2. COMIC,
        stop is please , will ya
        or else this thing will turns to TRAGIC.

        There are two issues here , one is whether this guy has a degree or not , the second one is whether he is qualified or not.

        Om was defending on the fact that Vivek does indeed has a MASTERS degree.
        And there is nothing wrong with defending that.

        I am with John Dvorak on the qualification part. Personally I think he is not qualified. but used his degree , proximity to D.C and democratic connections to get that job.

      3. “Comic Strip Blogger” is probably not a “racist slimeball,” just being silly.

        When did ethnic origins become relevant to a story that has no racial angle? Sure, maybe if you’re pontificating on the Gates-Boston cop story, but nothing Om wrote here warrants adding a so-called disclaimer. He didn’t even appear to be defending Kundra.

        Maybe next time a writer of Syrian origins is reporting on Steve Jobs, he should add a disclaimer!

    5. Is that you Dvorak? …behind this pseudonym

      1. Are you talking to me ?
        Is it for comic ?

      2. Nah dude. Not you. You seem sensible and reasonable, you can’t be Dvorak. I was talking to Comic.

      3. Muchos gracious,
        Comic will be allright give him some space.

  8. @Nuyawk,

    I’m not sure what you’re implying, but please reread my comments as I did not in any way make disparaging comments about Vivek Kundra or anyone else in particular for that matter. I simply noted that academic and career fraud is prevalent in the valley. I also suggest you read the commentary on Dvorak’s blog more clearly as I didn’t comment and usually don’t when unconfirmed accusations are made by anyone on the web.


  9. I’ve never liked Dvorak’s writings. I’m not saying anything about truth in government, just saying I can’t stand his writing. He just sounds like the guy in my company always crying wolf but never getting anything done.

  10. @Om, I’ve never even met the guy (Kundra) and by reading the report I could tell it was a smear-job. Your original post has changed dramatically into what it reads now. You referred to the Dvorak post, then said that resume-fraud is prevalent, and did nothing to point out any of the undocumented holes in the Dvorak report. I’m not a reporter and even I could point them out.

    For example, he accused him of having 1 employee but called himself CEO. That’s what all 1-person founders call themself. Later in his post, he says something about Kundra having falsely claimed to make millions, but Kundra’s bio never said that. It just said he’s CEO. You didn’t catch that either.

    And the degree-verification, please that is a serious accusation and will take more than a web search like Dvorak did. Reprinting it without pointing out it’s lack of verifications is as bad as posting it. Take a cue from Wikipedia.

    Again, your current post is dramatically different, in text, angle, and context, from your first.

    1. @Nyyawk

      I was reporting the story and updating it live. Which is very different from the way news has been reported in the past. We were trying to get as many facts as possible.

      Hope that clarifies matters for you.

      1. Ah, the new news, where facts come second and speed comes first.

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