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The fact that Vivek Kundra has decided to leave the federal government to accept a fellowship at Harvard should surprise no one. There are several reasons why it should have been expected, even predicted, despite the fact that Kundra probably didn t realize it himself initially.

First, trying to implement a huge but vague mandate such as the one he was given is difficult to the point of impossibility. Second, executives placed into these high-profile positions are used to getting results. But in the federal government, results are very slow to come even in the best of times.

Playing into the probable frustration that Kundra must have experienced is the temporary nature of the job. He served at the pleasure of the president, and President Barack Obama ‘s first term is starting to wind down with a tough re-election campaign fast approaching. Kundra had no certainty that his tenure and thus the organizational changes he wanted to make would survive the election.

Then of course, there ‘s the nature of the federal bureaucracy. The federal CIO has no authority outside the Office of Management and Budget. While he can evangelize the ideas he had about open-source and cloud-based computing, Kundra had no means by which he could actually require such changes. He also had no budget to make them happen. In the Executive Branch, each agency or department runs its own IT. The CIO in each agency reports to the agency head, not to the federal CIO.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Federal CIO Vivek Kundra Heads to Harvard With IT Goals Unfulfilled