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Clouds and feeds

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Just finished a conference call with Vivek Kundra, the president’s pick for chief information officer.

A few highlights. First, he promised to embrace cloud computing — which uses networked software distributed across remote servers, not on individual desktops — whenever it’s permissible under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and other security regulations. Cloud computing has been hugely successful in the private sector (Facebook and Gmail, for example, use a “cloud” model) but government has yet to really embrace it.

I reject the view that the public sector has to lag behind the private sector.

Kundra also promised to set up a new Web site, data.gov, that will provide public access to raw government data. He did something similar in the DC government. The site is here; it has feeds about crime and construction permits in the District, among other things. It’s allowed the public to do some cool things with DC data: CrimeReports.com, for example, overlays the crime feed on a Google map of the city, and allows you to track historical levels of crime in a neighborhood.

He also promised to take another look at federal cybersecurity policies once the administration finishes its 60-day review.

Part of that review involves looking closely at private-sector infrastructure… we need to make sure the private sector is fully engaged. And we need to move away from reports and processes and focus on how to do security.

Kundra will be doing two jobs, serving as CIO, and as OMB’s e-gov administrator. President Obama still plans to appoint a chief technology officer.

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