Microsoft exec to join DHS as CIO nominee gets tangled in FBI raid

Will the last person in Seattle to leave for the Obama administration please turn off the Space Needle? The Department of Homeland Security today announced that a senior Microsoft exec will step into a major cybersecurity role. Meanwhile, back in the other Washington, an FBI raid at the former DC CTO offices of new federal CIO Vivek Kundra is raising questions.

The raid, which appears to have been predicated on a bribery sting operation, is not known to involve Vivek, whom President Obama nominated to be his chief information officer a week ago today. But there have been two arrests -- Yusuf Acar, an information systems security officer with the city, and Sushil Bansal, president and chief executive of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. AITC has a number of contracts with city agencies including the DMV, and the city's human-resources department; Mr. Bansal used to be a city government employee. Both men appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon and corruption charges were brought against them.

Kundra was, ironically, speaking at last day of the annual FOSE conference when the raids were taking place. In his keynote, he spoke about the potential for government to be innovative, and praised the virtues of transparency in governmental matters.

"Transparency allows people to participate in the public civic process, to look at where their money is going, how it's being spent and to hold the government officials accountable," he said. "That's one of the central pillars of this administration as we talk about driving forward, as far as radical transparency is concerned."

Looking west, Microsoft's handing over their chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist to DHS for a while. Phil Reitinger (pictured above) will become deputy undersecretary of the National Protections Program division of DHS. Among the duties of that position is outreach to the private firms responsible for the information component of the national infrastructure -- telecom, power management, transportation and so forth.

The appointment comes a week after the resignation of Rob Beckstrom, director of DHS's national Cybersecurity Center, who in his resignation letter warned that the DHS cybersecurity program was in danger of being swallowed by the Borg the National Security Agency. A DHS spokesman describes Reitinger as "the point person on cyber" for the agency now.

This is a return trip to government work for Reitinger, who served at the Department of Justice for eleven years and later became executive director of the Department of Defense's Cyber Crime Center. He has also served on the Industry Executive Subcommittee of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), where he chaired the Next Generation Networks Task Force.

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