Obama CIO goes on leave after scandal at former office

Vivek Kundra has not been implicated, but will remain on leave until more is known about his former colleagues' alleged schemes to defraud the D.C. government.

Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra has taken leave from his post as more details have emerged on the FBI sting at his former District of Columbia government office. The operation already has led to the arrests of a D.C. government employee and a consultant, and several other District officials were mentioned in an FBI affidavit.

The White House confirmed on Thursday evening that Kundra, who served as the District's chief technology officer until March 4, will be on leave until further details of the case become known. A spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said Kundra has not been implicated in the investigation. But the growing scandal at his former office has led some observers to question Kundra's ability to bring transparency to federal information technology procurements.

On Thursday, the FBI raided the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at 1 Judiciary Square, N.W., and arrested Yusuf Acar, acting chief security officer, and Sushil Bansal, formerly a program manager in the D.C. government and now president and chief executive officer of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. Both were charged with bribery of a public official, money laundering, wire fraud and conflict of interest.

According to an affidavit by FBI special agent Andrew Sekela, Acar and Bansal conducted multiple fraud schemes, including billing the District for items that were never received and for "ghost employees" who never performed any work for the city.

A city employee allegedly approached by Acar in April 2008 with an offer to join the scheme eventually tipped off the FBI and agreed to work with the bureau to investigate the case. The affidavit said several other employees in the District's technology office were involved in the scheme, but identified them only by their initials.

In a taped conversation transcribed in the court document, Acar boasted to the FBI's witness that, "We have 6 million [expletive] dollars," and claimed he would jump on the next plane to his native country of Turkey if the scheme were uncovered. FBI agents found $70,000 in cash in Acar's home in Northwest Washington when they arrested him Thursday morning.

One of several companies involved in the ghost employee plot hired an undercover FBI agent to occupy the no-show job, according to the affidavit. The company billed the D.C. government and paid the agent more than $14,000, without having him perform any work.

In another scheme, Bansal through AITC submitted a quote of $104,000 to Acar for 2,000 licenses for McAfee virus scanning software, the affidavit said. AITC then allegedly sold only 500 licenses to the technology office at a cost of about $37,000. According to the affidavit, AITC has done more than $13 million in business with the District government, primarily with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

The document also stated that a company known as Circle Networks Inc. did about $2.2 million in business with the D.C. government while Acar was listed on several documents as having an ownership stake. Circle Networks is alleged to have collected $200,000 in illegal kickbacks on behalf of Acar.

Three other companies also were named as involved in the conspiracy: Innovative IT Solutions Inc., Allnet Systems and Network Osiris, all of which appear to be connected to current or former employees of the District's technology chief's office.

Acar allegedly intercepted an e-mail message from District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General that included his name. He expressed concern about the possibility of an investigation, at one point asking the FBI witness, "Are we going to jail?"

At least three other District employees were mentioned in the affidavit. The most prominent, identified only as "W.M," was in charge of security systems and engineering at the OCTO and reported to Acar. The affidavit said Acar has suggested W.M. was involved in and aware of the kickback scheme.