Reports: Obama to Name Federal CTO This Week

Nation's first chief technology officer likely will impact state and local IT programs.

by / January 6, 2009
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Photo: Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf

The cyber-space rumor mill is churning full bore after The New York Times and the BBC reported this week that President-elect Barack Obama will name his national chief technology officer (CTO) as soon as Wednesday.

But lesser-known blogs are reporting that Obama has no plans to name a CTO this week.

The newly appointed position will implement Obama's technology agenda, though it remains to be seen what the national CTO's precise role will be. Some observers are pushing for a "visionary" figure who would push a transformative agenda for technology within American life, while others are seeking a detail-oriented bureaucrat who would streamline how federal IT dollars are spent.

No matter who Obama chooses, he or she will likely work on issues of importance to state and local government, including a build-out of broadband fiber in rural regions, Internet neutrality and a wireless interoperable public safety communications network for the nation.

Possible selections for the national CTO, among many others, are Vint Cerf, a "father" of the Internet who is now Google's chief Internet evangelist; former FCC adviser Julius Genachowski, who helped write Obama's technology agenda; and a dark horse, Washington, D.C., CTO Vivek Kundra, who is advising Obama's transition.

The blogosphere was also abuzz this week with speculation that ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs was passing on his much-anticipated annual appearance at the MacWorld expo because he was Obama's pick for CTO.

 

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Video: Vint Cerf, Google VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, talks about the future of the Internet.


Check www.govtech.com this week for Obama's choice and reaction from state and local IT officials.

 

Matt Williams Associate Editor