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Instant analysis: Bribery case may undo Kundra's Web 2.0 vision

His future as first federal CIO may be in question

March 13, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - WASHINGTON - The future of Vivek Kundra as the first federal CIO may be in doubt as a result of the bribery charges leveled against the District of Columbia's IT security chief and the CEO of a contractor. The case will raise questions on everything from Kundra's management approach to his views on offshore outsourcing.

That Kundra took a leave of absence within hours of the FBI's raid on his former offices, where he worked as the District's chief technology officer, is the most obvious sign of the trouble ahead. According to court documents, the case is nothing more than a straightforward financial crime committed by two people. But that's only the starting point for peeling this onion.

Let's begin with the contractor, Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. (AITC). Its CEO, Sushil Bansal, was arrested in connection with the case.

AITC received a lot of work from the District of Columbia. The only "case studies" and press releases on the company's Web site concern IT projects for the District. Court documents show that since 2004, the company has done more than $13 million in business with the District. One contract, which began in July 2008 and is listed on the D.C. government Web site, was for "services" that are "not to exceed $10,000,000." Kundra was appointed in 2007.

AITC is listed by the District as being "small, local disadvantaged" on the contract, which means it's qualified to receive preferred procurement and contracting opportunities. But while AITC may be based in D.C., the company touts its offshore operations in India. Does that still count as local? What made AITC's capabilities stand out in this competitive market?

Did AITC send District IT work offshore? If that's the case, will Kundra, as federal CIO, encourage U.S. agencies -- and by extension, commercial businesses -- to send IT work offshore?

The management abilities of Yusuf Acar, the acting chief IT security officer who was arrested, are open to question, too. Was something missed in the background checks? Hello, auditors?

Kundra wants to move IT in new directions and onto new platforms, and he's established himself as a visionary. But this bribery case will bring to the forefront questions about his capabilities as a manager.

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