Obama appoints Aneesh Chopra as CTO

Updated April 20 at 4 p.m.

Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s secretary of technology, has joined the Barack Obama administration as the White House chief technology officer. Obama announced the appointment in his radio address April 18.

Obama also announced that he will appoint Jeffrey Zients to the position of deputy director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, with additional duties as the federal government's first chief performance officer. Zients is the founder and managing partner of Portfolio Logic, an investment firm focused primarily on business and healthcare service companies. Zients previously served as chief executive officer and chairman of the Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C.

Kenneth Baer, director of communications for the Office of Management and Budget said the chief performance officer position and the federal chief information officer don’t change the structure of OMB.

“What they do, do is underscore a change in emphasis and focus,” Baer said. “The CPO will now be focusing on a performance agenda, on results, on producing results and not just on the nuts and bolts management of the federal government. And the CIO, I think, also underscores a focus on using technology to deliver a government that is effective and efficient.”

The Obama administration also created the CIO position and appointed Vivek Kundra to fill it.

Chopra leads Virginia's strategy to leverage technology in government reform, to promote Virginia’s innovation agenda, and to foster technology-related economic development, the White House said. Previously, he worked with Zients as managing director with the Advisory Board Company, leading the firm’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.

IT trade groups were supportive of Chopra's appointment.

"In making this appointment, the president reiterated the key role that technological innovation plays in achieving our most urgent priorities, including job creation, transforming health care and enhancing homeland security," said Mark Bohannon, senior vice president and general counsel at the Software and Information Industry Association.

The Business Software Alliance is "encouraged by the visionary role the president has planned for the CTO," said Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of BSA.  

The CTO position will not be part of OMB, but a senior official there speaking on background said broadband access, health technology and net neutraility are likely to be among the CTO's top policy priorities.

Chopra earned with a masters in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997, and a B.A. degree from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994. Chopra's work in Virginia was the subject of a Federal Computer Week cover story last week.

In his new role, the president in his prepared radio address said, "Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities – from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."

The president's prepared statement continued: "Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs. The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money – and can hold us accountable for the results."



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