President Obama has appointed Todd Park as the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Previous to the appointment, Park acted as CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he apparently headlined the creation of HealthCare.gov. According to a March 9 posting on The White House Blog, Park will work closely with Tom Power, U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications.
Park succeeds Aneesh Chopra, the first Chief Technology Officer, who served in the position for three years. President Obama originally created the CTO position as a way to update the federal government s use of technology, particularly where it interfaces with citizens.
Within months of his appointment, Chopra had visited Silicon Valley and told executives there that he not only wanted to speed up the pace of IT innovation within the federal government, but also in health care and education. One of his top agenda items, he said, was to speed up the federal government s product and service updates, something that would require updating antiquated rules and regulations.
One of Chopra's last high-profile acts before stepping down was a co-authored letter, released Jan. 14, that positioned the Obama administration as concerned about the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), which sought to tamper with the Internet by manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS). The letter argued that DNS filtering posed a real risk to cyber-security and wasn't the best way to fight online privacy.
Beyond the U.S. CTO, the administration's attempts to make the federal government a more streamlined IT organization encountered some significant--and perhaps inevitable--roadblocks. In 2011, federal CIO Vivek Kundra decided to leave the federal government to accept a fellowship at Harvard, without having enacted many of the ideas he evangelized concerning open source and cloud computing.
Before he left, Kundra specified that all federal agencies had to migrate at least one system to a hosted environment in 2011. Some had already taken steps to fulfill that request, such as when the Treasury Department moved its Website to Amazon EC2 in January. However, it remained unclear whether his broad initiatives would remain intact under his replacement, former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel.