Obama CTO may lack policy authority

The news that one potential chief technology officer has turned down the offer because it is reportedly not a policy-making position changes the equation that many observers had applied to the role.

Norm Lorentz, who was the first chief technology officer at the Office of Management and Budget early in the Bush administration, said the CTO position must be able to set policy and have the budget authority to enact those policies. Otherwise, the person who fills it will lack the needed tools to exert real influence. 

“Absolutely, it has to be a policy position,” said Lorentz, vice president at the Council for Excellence in Government. If this role does not have the policy-making authority, the CTO is “just a toothless tiger,” he said.

The CTO must also have a direct connection to the president, especially in areas for which he wishes to produce transformational results, Lorentz said. 

According to published reports, President-elect Barack Obama had offered the job to Julius Genachowski, his top technology adviser, who turned it down because of the lack of policy-setting authority. Obama will probably offer Genachowski the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission instead, according to reports.

The Washington Post published one detailed report, citing unnamed sources close to the transition team.

Obama has said that the CTO would make sure that federal networks are secure, lead an interagency effort to implement the best-in-class technologies and share best practices. Obama’s selection has been a hot topic of speculation for weeks.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group