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    Boss, our IT is horrible, IT guy tells Obama

    Washington: US President Barack Obama's Indian-American IT guy is in full agreement with his boss that the White House is "like 30 years" behind the times when it comes to technology.

    "Federal IT is horrible - that's why we've made it a priority to aggressively crack down on wasteful IT spending and turn around poorly performing projects," says Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer.

    Obama had rightly "pointed out how tough the problem really is," he told Politico, a Washington newspaper focusing on presidential and congressional politics.

    The government now spends about $80 billion a year on technology systems - up from $ 46 billion in 2001.

    Kundra said the government wastes billions of dollars on ineffective technology systems. He said he found $ 3 billion in savings by using the IT Dashboard, a tool he introduced in 2009 that tracks how much the government spends on information technology investments.

    Other progress has been made, he said. When the Obama administration came into office, "We had giant boxes on our desks instead of the laptops and docking stations we have now."

    Kundra has pushed consumer-focused companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon to get into the government game.

    They are now selling "cloud computing" services, which store information for multiple agencies on large corporate-run servers, instead of each federal agency having to run its own equipment.

    Consolidating such data centres will save money and help the government run more efficiently, Kundra told Politico.

    The administration will soon issue a $2.5 billion cloud-computing procurement for federal and state agencies. One of Kundra's first priorities is revamping the government's email system.

    Instead of each agency having its own email scheme, Kundra has been working on creating a governmentwide, cloud-based email network.

    The administration expects to save $42 million from moving two agencies' email systems to the cloud, and the move will eliminate 800 data centres over the next five years.

    Six months ago, Kundra unveiled a 25-point plan to help rein in out-of-control IT costs. Kundra has also pushed the government to publish thousands of data sets on Data.gov, so that citizens can use information about hospital patient reviews, for example, or product recalls.