Legal Defense Fund Launched for Former SBA CIO

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The fund has raised over $25,000 as of Aug. 1.

A fundraising page has been set up in support of a former Small Business Administration IT leader who is appealing his dismissal from the agency.

Keith Bluestein, who was hired in June 2020 as SBA’s chief information officer, was put on temporary leave in late January 2022 and officially fired this summer. According to Bluestein’s LinkedIn page, he officially left the agency in June and began working as a principal at Deep Water Point, a government management consulting firm.

Bluestein is appealing his dismissal with the Merit System Protection Board, an independent panel that rules on federal personnel issues—including claims of inappropriate termination—according to a fundraiser set up on GiveSendGo asking for donations to assist with legal fees.

As of Aug. 1, the fund had raised over $25,000, with a goal of $75,000.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed by your incredible support. I cannot thank you enough for helping me on this journey of redemption,” Bluestein wrote in a July 24 update, in which he also confirmed that he filed a formal appeal on July 8.

During an all-hands meeting with SBA IT employees in November 2021, Bluestein opened by acknowledging that he had been absent from the agency for some time due to legal issues, according to multiple sources who were in attendance and spoke with Nextgov on the condition of anonymity.

He followed those statements with a 45-minute presentation on the future of IT at SBA, the sources said. 

Bluestein was appointed SBA CIO in June 2020 after the previous CIO, Maria Roat, accepted the position of deputy federal CIO in the Office of Management and Budget. Bluestein returned to the agency after three years at NASA, previously having served as deputy CIO and acting CIO at SBA in 2015 and 2016.

He has also held positions as an adjunct and visiting professor at Strayer University and the Keller Graduate School of Management, respectively, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Luis Campudoni served as acting CIO while Bluestein was on leave. However, Steve Kucharski, SBA's director of the Office of Performance Systems Management, was recently tapped to take over as acting CIO and Campudoni returned to his deputy CIO duties.

Neither SBA nor Bluestein responded Monday to requests for comment. In the past, SBA officials have declined to comment on inquiries about Bluestein’s departure, stating, “the SBA does not comment on personnel matters."

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify SBA's current acting CIO.