Tech groups praise Obama pick for CTO

Aneesh Chopra has strong experience using technology to make government more responsive, supporters say

Tech vendors and trade groups have praised U.S. President Barack Obama's appointment of Virginia's secretary of technology as the U.S. government's CTO, saying that Aneesh Chopra has strong experience using technology to make government more responsive to citizens.

The appointment, announced Saturday, "is an important step in bringing the federal government's information systems into the 21st century," Alan Davidson, Google's director of government relations and public policy, wrote on the company's public policy blog. "As Virginia's technology czar Aneesh has been relentless in applying technology to make government work better for citizens -- from requiring state government agencies to make their sites more crawlable, to integrating iTunes with the state's educational system."

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While some people in the U.S. tech community called for the government's CTO to come from Silicon Valley, Google doesn't think that was necessary, Davidson said. Google CEO Eric Schmidt had been mentioned as a possible candidate for CTO.

"Chopra's record of being unafraid to experiment and push government to better serve citizens bodes well for his performance in facing difficult challenges and great opportunities," Davidson said.

Obama, announcing the appointment during his weekly address, said Chopra will "promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities -- from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."

Chopra, who formerly worked on health IT issues, will work closely with newly appointed Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients and CIO Vivek Kundra to make technology work better for U.S. taxpayers, Obama said. "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," he said. "With the leadership of these individuals, I am confident that we can break our bad habits, put an end to the mismanagement that has plagued our government, and start living within our means again."

In addition to Google, executives at Intel, Sun Microsystems, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Consumer Electronics Association, TechAmerica, and the Business Software Alliance praised the Chopra appointment.

"Aneesh Chopra is one of technology's leading lights and we are lucky to have him as our nation's chief technology officer," Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, said in a statement. "Aneesh demonstrated outstanding leadership as Virginia's secretary of technology and believes to his core that innovation and technology are the backbone of our economy. We applaud President Barack Obama for this choice of a proven, results-driven and experienced executive that will harness the power of innovation and cutting-edge discovery to help to make government work better for all of our citizens."

Obama made a "stellar choice," Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, said in statement. "This man is a 'do-er,' plain and simple. He is a visionary leader and executive who can bring people together around a vision to get the job done. Aneesh is a passionate advocate of how technology and innovation can positively impact the lives of millions of our citizens through improved education, health-care, helping better protect our environment and so much more."

Chopra served on the Obama transition team's technology, innovation and government reform working group.

Before serving in Virginia's government, he was managing director with the Advisory Board Co., a publicly traded health-care think tank. He led the firm's Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives and assisted the launch of the firm's first business intelligence software package, Compass.

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