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Archive for January 29th, 2009

What’s up with the CTO? Also the DOD CIO and Roger Baker to VA?

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20090129-obama-cto-marketWe’ve been seeing all sorts of appointments coming out of various agencies as many key spots in agencies start to get filled.

What’s interesting is that we haven’t heard much of anything about the much-discussed — at least much-discussed outside official Washington — Obama CTO post. That has prompted some to ask what is going on with the Obama CTO.

I’m hearing that there is some discussion about the role of the CTO as compared to the OMB administrator of e-government and information technology, the post most recently held by Karen Evans, of course. Some people have suggested that the Obama CTO job could end up being… well, much ado about nothing. Others think that they may do essentially what they have done with the chief performance officer — double up on an existing job. In other words, they might name the OMB administrator of e-government and IT also as the CTO. that seems to be a missed opportunity to me. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on how you would actually organize this.

UPDATE: Reader Ron Mecredy noted that the Obama administration did mention the CTO post in the transparency memo.

I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

An interesting read: David Kralik, the director of internet strategy for American Solutions and the manager of its Silicon Valley office, wrote a column for HuffingtonPost, where he suggested that the CTO should be thought of as the chief transformation officer… and that the person should have no government experience.

The appointment of a CTO may very well be one of the most important hires in this new administration if it is thought of as an opportunity for enacting real change in how the government functions. For that reason, maybe we should think of the CTO instead as the “Chief Transformation Officer.”

I don’t know how much traffic Matthew Burton’s Obama CTO prediction market has been getting — my guess is it has been pretty quiet with not much news to report. That being said, “Field” — essentially a ‘none-of-the-above’ category — has taken a big lead. See the most recent tally here.

Elsewhere… NextGov/GovExec’s Bob Brewin is “picking up strong signals” that Team Obama is looking at retired Radm. Robert “Willie” Williamson to succeed John Grimes as assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration, also known as the DOD CIO. Grimes is staying on as DOD CIO until a new person is selected, insiders tell the DorobekInsider.

And over at VA, where Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is now setting up his office, there are a number of names floating around — including Roger Baker, who the Washington Post’s In the Loop column suggests, could be tapped for “chief innovation officer.”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general, appears to be stacking his sub-Cabinet with fellow veterans. We’re hearing buzz that Shinseki will name W. Scott Gould, who served in Iraq as a naval intelligence reservist, as his deputy secretary. Gould, a former assistant secretary of commerce who once served in the Clinton White House, is a vice president at IBM Global Business Services.

Meanwhile, Shinseki is eyeing disabled Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth as assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. Duckworth, whom Obama had considered for the top VA post, currently runs the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. A former congressional candidate, Duckworth had been mentioned as a candidate for the Senate seat Obama vacated. After losing both her legs in combat, Duckworth was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s Iraq war policy.

Sources say Shinseki also could tap Roger Baker, who served on Obama’s transition team and is a longtime information technology executive in government and private industry, for a top VA post, perhaps as chief innovation officer.

I’ll be fascinated to hear what a chief innovation officer is.

Written by cdorobek

January 29, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Posted in Transition