The Office of the CTO (Part II)

By: Ari

Back in November we wrote about the Obama Administration planned appointment of a US CTO and make it a cabinet level position.
Back then there were different opinions as to the value (or even need) of such a position and even the ones endorsing the idea were debating what the role should include.

Overseeing communications and allowing for a transparent government (achieved with help of new technology) was one of the goals. A second was perhaps a more aligned task with the need for job creation: helping secure broadband across the US, and especially in rural America.

I ended my previous posting stating the following:

“The question is NOT whether “technology” deserves a cabinet level head, it is about HOW and WHAT will this new position and department do, what will it oversea, how will they interfere with free markets, how much regulation and will it be the “right” kind… I will leave this for another discussion. The Office of Home Land Security is another example of a recent new post and as we know, it takes a few years to evolve it.
What should be taken away from this post is that the country should give technology the attention that President Obama seems to be interested in providing! If it is done right we will all benefit from it.”

Well, last week President Obama appointed Mr. Aneesh Paul Chopra, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology as the nations first CTO.

In his address Obama sited the following as the main goal for the CTO:

“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.”
This appointment came together with the appointment of a new Chief Performance Officer (CPO) and after an appointment of a new Chief Information Officer (CIO) back in March.

The CPOs duties:

“…will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find the best practices throughout the government”

The CIOs duties:

“The Federal Chief Information Officer directs the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending. The Federal CIO establishes and oversees enterprise architecture to ensure system interoperability and information sharing and ensure information security and privacy across the federal government. The CIO will also work closely with the Chief Technology Officer to advance the President’s technology agenda.”

So the truth is, I was looking forward to the new CTO position but from what I have read I am somewhat disappointed.
The president did mention that these three posts will be working together to achieve all of these good things but I was hoping for one true cabinet level position. I don’t really see a clear distinction between the CIO and the CTO and the “working together” phrase just does not do it.

The WSJ reported how tech bloggers and experts like the new appointment so lets hope I am wrong.
Time will tell if the US will catch up to where other nations achieved already.

Thoughts anyone?