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02.12.2009 Obama CTO reader: Will we ever see appointments?

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Where oh where is the CTO? That apparently is the question.

At least some of the steam came out of Obama CTO sails when we all learned that DC CTO Vivek Kundra would be appointed the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and information technology. But we continue to hear buzz that, in fact, they will not double up on titles, but, in fact, they will name an Obama CTO — and that this person will have some real authority.

Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Jason Miller reported yesterday that President Obama amended an executive order — Executive Order 12859, for those keeping track — that solidifies the CTO position.

In a notice published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, the President amended Executive Order 12859 from August 1993 by removing the AIDS Policy Coordinator and replaces it with an Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer. The Executive Order signed by former President Bill Clinton established the Domestic Policy Council and listed the members

This is the first time the administration included assistant to the president as part of the CTO’s title.

The White House Web site says the President would “appoint the nation’s first CTO to ensure the safety of our networks and lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.”

Under the Homeland Security section of the White House site, it says the President would “appoint a National CTO to ensure that the current non-interoperable plans at the federal, state, and local levels are combined, funded, implemented and effective.”

A CTO also play a major role in other areas such as openness and transparency and private sector critical infrastructure security.

I should note that Miller also spoke to the author of the Congressional Research Service report looking at the Obama CTO. You can hear that conversation her.

But, where in the world is the CTO?

The WSJ’s All Things Digital blogger Kara Swisher asks precisely that question.

With the naming of Oracle (ORCL) President Charles Phillips to President Barack Obama’s 16-Member Economic Recovery Advisory Board a few days ago, another Silicon Valley tech mandarin fell off the list to become America’s first chief technology officer.

But she goes off in the seemingly typical direction of much of the media suggesting these titans of IT — mostly from the Silicon Valley — people who simply don’t know how government works.

Could it be well-known entrepreneur Mitch Kapor? Google (GOOG) guru-in-resident and Internet father Vint Cerf? Or some other tech-savvy Silicon Valley figure?

BoomTown is, of course, rooting for Steve “Woz” Wozniak. Once he wins “Dancing With the Stars” this season, he will be the only nerd capable of the two-stepping one needs to survive in Washington.

The name I continue to hear is Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. Along those lines, the commonwealth of Virginia just launched it’s own stimulus Web site — Stimulus.Virginia.Gov — which is a way for groups, localities and residents to submit project ideas, market research firm Input says. Additionally, Virginians will have the ability to view proposals in a web table that will be updated on a daily basis. (Daily? Not in real time?)

After the break… what did you do in 16 days? Apparently the CTO appointment wasn’t on the list… and a link to a Q&A with one of the Obama CTO front runners… and more…


Other CTO items in your CTO reading list:

* Technology Review: Awaiting Obama’s Second Web Act
The delay in appointing a CTO makes a technological overhaul of the federal government seem less likely.

Get this:

On his second day in office, President Obama signed a memorandum on “Transparency and Open Government” in which he directed his chief technology officer, in coordination with the director of the office of management and budget and the administrator of general services, to make recommendations within 120 days on how to use technology to create a more open government.

Three weeks later, there’s just one little problem: Obama hasn’t appointed a chief technology officer.

I just want to make sure I understand  — something doesn’t happen in 16 business days and therefore… it isn’t happening?

“The campaign was successful at riding a wave of empowerment that technology has given Americans,” says Andrew Rasiej, founder of a widely read blog on politics and technology and of Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference. “It remains to be seen whether that wave of empowerment will be able to breach the wall of the federal bureaucracy.”

The delay itself speaks volumes, Rasiej says. He adds that if the appointee winds up not reporting directly to Obama, but rather to a cabinet member, it will be even worse. The danger, Rasiej says, is that “technology is viewed as an issue–‘health,’ ‘energy,’ ‘technology’–and thought of and budgeted as a vertical, as opposed to a platform that literally solves problems for all the different issue areas.”

The tech litmus test again. I actually think it is very important to get all the pieces aligned so they can actually work together. My concern would be how much of that reworking is going on… and they are making appointments. Kundra, Stanton, a White House new media person… Not all of these appointments have been confirmed, but… things are happening.

But most people simply cannot comprehend the complexity of the transition. There are thousands of jobs to fill. Whew!

* Technology Review: America’s First CTO?

Cisco’s Padmasree Warrior tells us what role a U.S CTO should play

Warrior’s name keeps coming up for the CTO post. Regardless of whether she is the Obama CTO or not, she is clearly very smart, so this is an interesting Q&A.

TR: What should the national CTO do?

PW: In terms of the top areas of focus, the first is to work on e-government initiatives, allowing government to be more efficient and open. The second area is to leverage innovation to boost the economy. The third area being talked about is cybersecurity. If you look at President Obama’s agenda for technology and the importance he feels it has in terms of putting the United States back as a technology leader–and leveraging technology to boost the economy–the CTO can have a huge impact in that agenda.

Read the full Q&A here.

Just a few others…

* InformationWeek: Is The Federal CTO Job Too Much For One Person?

* InTech: America’s CTO: U.S. joins other global companies, 21st century

Written by cdorobek

February 12, 2009 at 8:23 AM

6 Responses

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  1. [...] announced the CTO’s to-do list, the position is still vacant.  Chris Dorobek addressed some other key concerns recently as [...]

  2. [...] 02.12.2009 Obama CTO reader: Will we ever see appointments … [...]

  3. One name rumored to be on the CTO list is John Seely Brown. Here’s a recent interview with Brown, conducted by Computerworld’s Gary Anthes.

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=Management&articleId=332680

    Mitch Betts

    February 14, 2009 at 7:42 PM

  4. [...] 02.12.2009 Obama CTO reader: Will we ever see appointments? [...]

  5. [...] much consternation, I’m hearing that “he-who-shall-not-be-named” — Vivek Kundra, [...]

  6. [...] WP reports this morning what we, of course, have been telling you for week — here and here and here and here — that DC CTO Vivek Kundra is joining the White House. Yes, [...]


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