Vivek Kundra reinstated as federal CIO

Leave of absence ends; White House says Kundra isn't a target of D.C. IT bribery probe

Vivek Kundra, who took a leave of absence from his job as the federal government's first CIO last week, was reinstated today after the White House determined that he has no connection to an alleged bribery scheme in the District of Columbia's IT department, where he previously was chief technology officer.

"Mr. Kundra has been informed that he is neither a subject nor a target of the investigation and has been reinstated," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said via e-mail late today, in response to a query seeking confirmation of reports posted online by the Personal Democracy Forum's techPresident blog and The New York Times.

Kundra had been on leave since last Thursday, following the arrests of the D.C. IT department's acting chief security officer and the CEO of an outsourcing contractor on bribery and other charges. The arrests and a related raid on the district's IT offices took place as Kundra was speaking at FOSE 2009, a government IT conference in Washington, in his first major public appearance since being named federal CIO.

President Barack Obama's appointment of Kundra as the government's first official CIO had been announced only a week prior to the arrests. There were no indications in court documents that Kundra knew anything about the alleged illegal activities, but the arrested IT staffer, Yusuf Acar, was a subordinate of Kundra's when the latter was the district's chief technology officer.

Kundra's leave of absence had raised questions not only about his future as CIO but also about the direction of federal IT efforts. In the brief period between his appointment and the start of the leave, Kundra had articulated a technology vision that included turning federal agencies into IT innovators and using technologies such as the iPhone to make the government more transparent and open to the public.

Acar, meanwhile, returned to court today to seek a release from jail, where he has been held since his arrest. But a federal judge denied bail to Acar, citing arguments by prosecutors that he might try to flee the country if he was released.

The second person charged in the case is Sushil Bansal, CEO of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp., an offshore outsourcing and IT services firm in Washington. Bansal was released last week on the condition that he remain in the Washington area.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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