White House taps former Facebook executive for new IT role

The White House is filling the hole created by the loss of two of its top technology operations officials in January with another recruit from Silicon Valley.

President Barack Obama appointed David Recordon Thursday as the director of White House Information Technology.

In a blog post on White House.gov, Anita Breckenridge, the deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House, wrote that Recordon will assume a “newly created position that will be responsible for modernizing the White House’s own technology.”

The President also issued a memo detailing Recordon’s roles and responsibilities — many of which have traditionally been done by the chief information officer of the Executive Office of the President.

David Recordon (Photo by Joi Ito. Flickr/Creative Commons License)

It’s unclear whether Recordon’s new position will be in lieu of an EOP CIO and deputy CIO, or in addition to those positions. Multiple emails to the White House asking about the status of the CIO position were not returned.

In January, EOP CIO Karen Britton and Deputy CIO Alyssa Johnson announced they were leaving to join the private sector.

“As director of White House Information Technology, David will build on the administration’s Smarter IT Delivery efforts to ensure that the technology utilized by the White House is efficient, effective, and secure,” wrote Breckenridge. “This includes converging overlapping systems, modernizing software used to collaborate, and bringing use of new technologies in line with private sector best practices. This work will both benefit the operations of the White House and also help pave the way for improvements across the federal government.”

Obama’s memo shed more light on Recordon’s new role.

“The director of White House Information Technology, on behalf of the President, shall have the primary authority to establish and coordinate the necessary policies and procedures for operating and maintaining the information resources and information systems provided to the President, Vice President and EOP,” the memo stated. “The director shall ensure the effective use of information resources and information systems provided to the President, Vice President and EOP in order to improve mission performance, and shall have the appropriate authority to promulgate all necessary procedures and rules governing these resources and systems. The director shall provide policy coordination and guidance for, and periodically review, all activities relating to the information resources and information systems provided to the President, Vice President and EOP by the community, including expenditures for and procurement of information resources and information systems by the community.”

Recordon’s background doesn’t necessarily say strategic as much as it does operations.

Recordon served as an engineering director at Facebook, where he led software engineering teams responsible for companywide internal productivity tools that enabled staff to create, share and find information efficiently. He also oversaw teams responsible for open source, engineering education and the technology behind the company’s human resources, video conferencing and physical security efforts.

Recordon is not a stranger to the White House. He spent the last year as a consultant in the U.S. Digital Services Office inside the Office of Management and Budget.

The White House continues to tap executives from the “new” technology order.

Along with Recordon, Mikey Dickerson, the head of USDS, and Megan Smith, the federal chief technology officer, both worked at Google. Current federal CIO Tony Scott and former federal CIO Steve VanRoekel worked at Microsoft. The White House also has recruited Presidential Innovation Fellows and employees in the General Services Administration’s 18F and other similar innovation labs from start-ups and tech-boom companies.

In addition to creating this new position, Obama also established a new executive committee for Presidential IT. The goal of this group is to advise and make policy recommendations to the deputy chief of staff and the director of IT.

“The director shall update the committee on both strategy and execution, as requested, including collaboration efforts with the Federal Chief Information Officer, with other government agencies and by participating in the Chief Information Officers Council,” the memo stated.

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