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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Reader comments

Sat, Aug 28, 2010

And not 18 months later, Virginia technology has been shown to be inadequate, and the entire system has ground to a halt:

Mon, Apr 20, 2009 KMG Dallas, TX

I think we need to give this administration a chance to make new changes and see how it turns out before we provide negative opinions. Put yourself in their shoes; you have idals you want to implement and is requesting support. I am sure you would want a chance before being put down, mocked, criticized, etc. I believe we need to start putting ourselves in others position to better understand and respect others willingness to achieve goals. That is my free advice to all the NAY SAYERS out there. Peace and love...KMG

Mon, Apr 20, 2009 Larry

It's very refreshing to see Americans again not afraid to be critical of our government. Under the previous administration, when havoc was being waged on the american way of life, people were afraid to voice their opinions. Now that we are back to being America again, people are not afraid to complain. That's a good sign, we're back!!

Mon, Apr 20, 2009 oracle2world

I must be slow, but what the heck is a "chief technology officer"? The acronym sounds kind of cool (CTO), but there really is no shortage of folks promoting technology to solve the World's Problems. Unless the marketing depts of all these technology companies are completely asleep. And judging by the money they blow on conventions and the media, they are WIDE awake. And so much for cutting big gov't. Why should anyone play ball with these efficiency programs when stuff like this springs up like spontaneous generation?

Mon, Apr 20, 2009 Vimla Mariwalla

The last line in the last paragraph of the news about appointing a CTO states: "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" Why accountability only applies to spending public money? Why there's no accountability about having spent Social Security funds on something unrelated to Social security? Or IRS calculating interest/penalty 3 times using different methods, but not refunding right away after the 2nd calculation which should be the correct calculation? Seems more like job security issue than anything else to send audit notices several years after filing of taxes!

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