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Dvorak Raises Doubts About U.S. CIO Kundra. White House Calls the Report "Highly Inaccurate" & "a Lie." Kundra Speaks up

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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.

111 Responses to “Dvorak Raises Doubts About U.S. CIO Kundra. White House Calls the Report "Highly Inaccurate" & "a Lie." Kundra Speaks up”

  1. It is sad that people connect their origin with the color of the skin and name, even if the person is a US Citizen. Calling someone who is a US Citizen as a “Indian Mafia” is deplorable.

    Should we call Mr. Dvorak as a Czech or a Russin Spy because his name is form the East Block ? If he is so obsessed with Indian and Italian Mafia, may be he should go back to his native country and deal with the KGB !

  2. joeschmoe

    Interesting that this Sunday on Leo Laporte’s TWiT podcast, when discussing Kundra and the Holodeck comments that Kundra made to congress, John Dvorak and Leo pressed Om Malik, supposed Best Friend Forever of Vivek Kundra for ratification that Om thought highly of Kundra’s technical qualifications, that all Om would say was that he does not judge people and that he actually never met Kundra.

    Moreover, Malik admitted that he really only knew as much about Kundra’s educational background as was dictated to Malik by an anonymous Whitehouse spokesman.

    Seems that Om’s bashing of Dvorak on Om’s blog was a bunch of hot air.

    • Yeah, Om was VERY hard-pressed on last sunday’s TWiT, especially in the part when they reproduced Kundra’s speech (complete tech gibberish). I can’t think of a better way to put it, but Om kind of “chickened out” on the show, never actually standing up to his bravado against Dvorak. That said, I think the original Dvorak pieace was a sincere, thoughtful alert to people about who the american government hire for this or that position, and that is a hell of a valuable alert, IMO.

  3. WriterOne

    A brief search convinces me that Dvorak lacks credibility. By responding to his “commentary” we may be feeding into this unnecessary dialogue.

    Type “Dvorak is wrong” on Google and you get 485 hits, on Bing – 275 hits, on Yahoo – 18 pages (lost count). He has been wrong about social tech software, internet radio, Apple, Internet Explorer, Windows 7 … just about everything. Dvorak even estimated that the fingers of an average typist in his day traveled between 12 and 20 miles on a qwerty keyboard. Why are we wasting our time?

    Look at the few links below that show up…

    1) http://tannervision.blogspot.com/2009/04/john-dvorak-thinks-social-tech-is-dumb.html
    2) http://www.forbes.com/1999/12/01/1201.html
    3) http://digg.com/apple/Why_John_C._Dvorak_is_Wrong_About_Apple
    4) http://www.edbott.com/weblog/?p=2419
    5) http://patorjk.com/blog/2009/07/12/typing-distance/
    6) http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q2.07/23659F71-13AE-4865-908A-2712484708E1.html

    The general opinion is that is John Dvorak does not like something … that is usually a great thing. So much for a tech expert.

  4. I am really getting annoyed. Sine when is an MBA from a satellite campus worthless? What a bunch of snobs some of you are. I would like to see the credentials of some of these commenters. I bet a lot of the snide comments about Kundra are coming from people who have achieved a lot less than he has. Sour grapes.
    Kundra moved DC over to Google Apps, a very major accomplishment. Also a controversial one. This is probably the real reason that people are trying to do a hatchet job on him.
    One of the good qualities that I THOUGHT the tech industry had over other industries was a focus on peoples IDEAS rather than their ethnicity or what school they went to.
    Sadly, I see that many of you are just as hidebound as any other “good ol’ boys” network. Your intellectual rigidity will be your undoing. While you waste time bitching about ethnicity, birth certificates and what campus makes a valid degree, smart people with real ideas will leave you in the dust, which is wherr you belong.

    • Sir, get over , I have a a degree too. We are not commenting on his degree anymore. That issue is verified. My issue is, he didn’t prove anything to be in that place.
      What on earth he knows about running federal IT. ? CTO of DC ? whoa !!. And what did he do ? Deploy Google apps, its not even close to installing MS office 7 ( that I don’t like is another issue).
      If you work in any agency you know there is more to it than deploying Google APPS.
      If you want I can provide a list of qualifications.

    • Nothing personal, but frankly, all MBA’s from anywhere are quite worthless. Congratulations, you took night classes at a local community college for 2 years and not we have taught you how to give people orders. At the very least if you’re going to go to the trouble of wasting the time and money required to get a degree, LEARN SOMETHING. Telling people what to do isn’t a topic of knowledge, it’s a very simple, basic skill that any village idiot can perfect in a matter of days.

      Here, I’ll let you prove it. Take all your MBA money (you guys do tend to be overpaid, after all) and buy 2 local restaurants. Hire one of your MBA buddies to run one place for a month and hire a bus boy – yes, a not-even-high-school-graduate – to manage the other one for the same month. After 30 days, check your balance sheet. Both restaurants will be in the red because ALL restaurants lose money the first 60 to 90 days, with virtually zero exceptions. That said, the losses selling the same food in similar locations at the same prices (barring one of them thinks of running a special) will be more or less even.

      So yes, if being a 22 year old college dropout who sees through your thinly veiled attempt at being “educated” makes me a snob, I will wear my new found title with pride, but don’t sit here and complain because you opted for a field which wouldn’t even merit a Sunday school class, much less a college degree.

      And now I will recite an on-topic comic (because that’s just how I roll…)
      Ted: Hey, Dilbert, would you mind stopping by my house after work and seeing if you can fix my computer?
      Dilbert: Sure, and while I do that you can be at my house cleaning the grout in my shower.
      Ted: That’s crazy talk.
      Dilbert: Hey, I’m not the one who majored in Comparative Literature.

      Nice to see you finally speak up, Ted.

  5. “If the question is whether Kundra is “qualified” to be “Federal CIO” then someone needs to show a job description.”
    Kundra throws around buzzwords and does so poorly. Bandwidth discussions? Second-life references? Puh-leeze. Regardless of the job responsibilities, this guy is way underqualified for the title. Maybe if the title was “Assistant Federal CIO.”

  6. Policy Wonk

    If the issue is whether Recovery.gov should cost $18M (which is the ceiling value on a multi-year optioned contract, not an actual expenditure), then that should be the focus of this debate.

    If the question is whether Kundra is “qualified” to be “Federal CIO” then someone needs to show a job description. The fundamental problem is that the position has no firm description. You can argue that Kundra’s salary could be better spent elsewhere, but you can’t say he’s “unqualified” because his position requires no qualifications. He has very little spending authority. He didn’t issue the Recovery.gov contract–that was all done by the General Services Administration:

    http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20090716_6972.php

    The fact is, the White House really could not find a more experienced candidate for the job, because no one really wanted it. It’s a job with no formal authority and no budgetary authority. It has substantial informal authority, being housed at OMB, but that’s about it. In exchange for taking on that informal authority, Kundra gets a Web debate over whether UMUC is the same as College Park. You think that people were pounding on the door to get that spot?

    • Kendall

      Obama said, “I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations.” [http://bit.ly/dpJdj] And the first thing he does is throw down $18 million for a website?!

      You write, “It’s a job with no formal authority and no budgetary authority.” How about $18 million for a website fro starters?! And who got this contract? Smartronix, based where? In Maryland, really, no kidding, no connection to Vivek Kundra at all. If you look at their own website it is unremarkable. How did these guys get $18 million for a web site? And what are they doing with all that cash?

      I’m sorry, I try not to be too cynical, but this is too obviously an appointment based on political and financial favors.

  7. So, if I am Russian, Uzbek, Samoan, Kyrgyz and German (a mutt like many of you in the USA), does that mean I must state this after researching a person’s last name and compare to all of my ethnicities each time I post? That could get a little hard especially if I confuse Malik as Polish or Slovenian :P .

    One thing, though…I believe the unknown comic, or whatever that guy is, was most likely referring to is ethnic group within India, not “Indian” since there is a lot of diversity here like my great Dravidian friends of the south who themselves have multiple ethnic groups (Tulu, Urali, Malasar, Kurux)! Think of India like Europe with the great Basques and Finns plus Turkey, not as one mass group of people from with the same language and ethnic background.

    “India is a continent; it should be divided into a number of countries…”, Arinjar Anna

    http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/dravidatva.html

  8. theowne

    Comic Strip Blogger: Maybe you should go to other sites on the web that are more suited for….people with your kind of thoughts.

    DISCLOSURE: I AM BIASED TOWARDS OM MALIK BECAUSE HIS LAST NAME STARTS WITH THE SAME LETTER AS ME AND THUS I MUST DEFEND HIM

  9. Hi Om
    Did you find out if Vivek Kundra had a Bachelors degree in Biology ?
    This seems to be the question no one is answering and I am wondering why, as it should be easy to find out
    Thanks

    • I just looked myself up at my alma mater. Despite the fact that I fulfilled the requirements for a Government B.A. and a Religion B.A. and that my physical diploma says that the B.A. is for Government and Religion and that I attended and was formally recognized at the Religion Department’s graduation ceremony…

      The College of William and Mary’s web directories all have me down as a B.A. in Government. That’s it. Food for thought?

  10. How can Vivek Kundra have a Top Secret Clearance when he has a criminal record for stealing?
    He should also be punished since on his watch as the DC-CTO there were anomalies and people
    busted by the FBI. He was the head of the DC IT department and should be investigated.

    Obama should ask him to resign, he has been a disgrace to them.