- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - FBI agents on Thursday arrested two men and searched the city’s technology office, until recently led by President Barack Obama’s new computer chief.

The White House said it was notified in advance of the search of the former District of Columbia office of Vivek Kundra, whom Obama chose as his chief information officer, an administration-wide post coordinating federal computer systems.

While the raid was happening at his old office, Kundra was giving a speech elsewhere on his new goals for government contracting.

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White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Justice Department told the White House on Thursday morning of its planned raid at the District of Columbia offices.

Gibbs declined to comment on the investigation or whether the White House was aware of it before Thursday.

“This is an ongoing investigation and questions about the investigation I would point you to the Department of Justice,” Gibbs told reporters. “Obviously, it’s a serious matter.”

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because charges had not yet been unsealed, said an employee of the office, Yusuf Acar, was arrested Thursday. Another man, Sushil Bansal, was also arrested. A court appearance was expected later in the day.

Bansal is founder and CEO of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp., which had numerous business dealings with the D.C. government, including five separate deals in a six-month period in 2008, according to its Web site.

One contract involved providing computer support for the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The company also was given a contract to upgrade the city’s human resources computer records and sold virus detection software to the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The company has offices in Washington and India.

In August, Bansal was named entrepreneur of the year by the Association of Indians in America.

Katherine Schweit, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, said the search was being conducted as part of an ongoing investigation.

Schweit declined to give the subject of the investigation, or comment further on the case.

Obama named Kundra earlier this month to help oversee government technology, including the ability of computer systems to communicate with each other and security for the vast federal information databanks.

Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian Fenty, said an investigation is ongoing, but she would not reveal any specific information about the case.

Men and women dressed in suits and wearing latex gloves could be seen entering and leaving the glass-enclosed lobby of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer on Thursday afternoon.

Even as the raid was taking place, Kundra was giving a speech at FOSE, an annual government technology expo.

Kundra said part of his focus is to change the way the government buys technologies from vendors.

“What makes the government so special that it can’t embrace some of these consumer technologies?” Kundra said. “What makes the government process so different that there is no way the government can’t take advantage of the Darwinian pressure in the consumer space to fundamentally innovate?”


Associated Press writers Donna Borak, Brian Westley and Brett Zongker contributed to this report.

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