The Obama CTO reader

The Obama administration’s announcement late Friday — and officially made on Saturday — of the OMB deputy director of management/chief performance officer as well as the much discussed Obama chief technology officer has been the talk of weekend water-coolers, such as they are. For those who are just catching up, more here… the President announced new chief performance officer and OMB deputy director of management, Jeffrey Zients, and also the much discussed Obama CTO, Aneesh Chopra, who has served as the Virginia Secretary of Technology.

In general, the CTO announcement wasn’t a total shock. Back on Feb. 12, we had Chopra on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris talking about Virginia’s innovative, you get a sense that Chopra has at least thought about the job. In fact, at that time, we promised Chopra we wouldn’t focus on the ObamaCTO job, but… I said that at the end of our conversation. Unfortunately it got chopped off. I’ll see if I can hunt it down today. Regardless, you can hear that conversation here.

Also if you want to get insight into the new Obama CTO, here is a video for you…

Hat tip to Read-Write-Web, where they said, “We’ve embedded a video of the keynote Aneesh Chopra gave at this year’s State of the Net Conference earlier this year to give you an insight into the thoughts of our new CTO. In this 50 minute talk, Chopra discusses health IT, broadband policy and open education among other things.”

I thought it would be good to pull together some readings on what people are sying about Chopra and the Obama CTO post. Some of the Dorobek Insider’s writings can be found here.

Other writings about the CTO:

* OMB Director Peter Orszag’s blog post about the Zients, under the delicious headline Move Over R2, CPO is Here (I’ll get more on Zients later, but… this was interseting):

The President decided to make the Deputy Director for Management the government’s first Chief Performance Officer because the goal is not just good management or solid operations, but generating good results for the American people. Through this performance lens, government operations become a way to drive better results, not an end in and of itself. Specifically, Jeff will lead the President’s efforts on contracting and procurement reform, improve government productivity by helping to root out error and waste, build a performance agenda across government, and enhance the transparency of the government’s finances so that citizens are empowered to hold us all accountable for improved stewardship and performance. He will work closely with the also just-announced Chief Technology Officer,Aneesh Chopra, and the Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra.

*’s Micah L. Sifry: Obama Names Aneesh Chopra US’s First CTO

Great analysis from Sifry… as always. (And no — not just because he mentions me!)

First, it looks like very good news for the transparency movement, as well as those of us looking for an open-minded leader willing to experiment with new forms of collaborative governance. For example, back in early 2007, under Chopra’s leadership, Virginia was one of the first states to move, with Google’s help, to make its state websites more searchable and thus more accessible to ordinary citizens. The state has also been in the forefront of efforts to create robust web services tracking the giant government stimulus spending package enacted by Obama, and as fed-watcher Christopher Dorobek points out, Chopra is well aware of and supportive of citizen-led watchdog efforts like Jerry Brito’s (Give points to Dorobek for also noting Chopra’s potential as CTO.)

Under Chopra (and it must be mentioned, his boss Governor Tim Kaine), the state also launched a highly interactive website that collected more than 9000 suggestions from residents on how the stimulus monies might be spent. “Relative to calls and letters, it’s fairly safe to say this is probably a tenfold increase in civic participation by allowing people to click on a button, submit their ideas and engage with their governor,” Chopra told a local paper back in March. Finally, like his soon-to-again-be-colleague Vivek Kundra, Obama’s Chief Information Officer, who also came out of Virginia before serving as DC’s CTO, Chopra is willing to try new ways to innovate government processes, inspired by the open and lateral networking development culture of the internet.

Read the full post here.

* O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly (the guy who invented the term Web 2.0): Why Aneesh Chopra is a Great Choice for Federal CTO

Some in Silicon Valley have hoped for one of their own, a CTO with a deep technology pedigree and ties to the technology industry. For example, the Techcrunch coverage leads with the title Obama Spurns Silicon Valley. This is a narrow view. I’ve been working for much of the past year to understand what many have been calling Government 2.0, and in that process, Chopra has been one of those who have taught me the most about how we can build a better government with the help of technology.

Chopra has been focused for the past three years on the specific technology challenges of government.

And O’Reilly goes on to list nine reasons why Chopra is good for the job. This post bullet points them :

  • The role of the CTO is to provide visionary leadership, to help a company (or in this case, a government) explore the transformative potential of new technology.
  • Chopra demonstrates a deep understanding of the idea that the government is an enabler, not the ultimate solution provider.
  • Chopra understands that government technologists need to act more like their counterparts in Silicon Valley.
  • Chopra is a practical innovator.
  • Chopra has a real focus on measurement, and on figuring out what really works.
  • Chopra has specific expertise in Health Care IT.
  • Chopra is incredibly charismatic.

But read O’Reilly’s full post here. (O’Reilly will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris this afternoon in our Meet the Innovator series talking about government 2.0.)

* WSJ’s Digits blog: Tech Industry Cheers as Obama Taps Aneesh Chopra for CTO

Silicon Valley execs and tech bloggers sounded genuinely excited about Obama’s choice Saturday morning and tech industry lobbying groups TechNet and the Business Software Alliance quickly released statements of support, as did several tech heavyweights.

I actually hear that many Valley techies were consulted — and gave an early thumb up for Chopra.

Much more to come… and we’re trying to get information on the chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients.