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Posts Tagged ‘ObamaCTO

Tapscott on the Obama CTO: It’s about collaboration

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There has been a lot of talk about President-elect Obama’s proposal to create a CTO.



Certainly I have written a number of posts about it — see here… and here… and here… And on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we have tried to have a number of people on to talk about the position and why it matters. Among the CJD-favorites… Harvard Business School associate professor Andrew McAfee — read his post on the CTO here and hear him here — and the person who created the Web suggestion box, which is not tied to Team Obama, I might add. (Hear him from here.)

We have added another luminary to the list of people we have spoken to — Don Tapscott, the author of the popular book Wikinomics and his newest book Grown Up Digital. Tapscott has a post on Huffington Post headlined “What Obama’s New CTO Should Do.” And we had him on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris Monday. You can hear that conversation here.

Among his points, he says that Obama CTO needs to ensure access… it needs to “creating the conditions for a vibrant technology industry”… But the two most interesting to me are “fostering collaboration” and then…

The Web-enabled Transformation of Government and Democracy

We need to use technology to dramatically modernize government and bring it into the digital era. Reinvention of government is an idea whose time has come. One aspect is to improve service to citizens as customers of government. The goal is to identify breakthrough strategies that rethink the core value of key government services, dramatically improve service delivery, reduce costs, and renew administrative processes. Another is to change the role of the citizen as a shareholder in government. We should re-examine the nature of democratic institutions, the role of the private sector, the relationship between the citizen and the state, the future of the nation-state, and new requirements for governance in a global, networked economy.

At a recent meeting of the World Economic Forum, a working group on government recommended digital brainstorm to kickstart Democracy 2.0. Each government leader should create a bold citizen engagement initiative, beginning with a three day citizen jam inviting all citizens to participate in a discussion of an important issue. This will lead to other initiatives to engage citizens in solving important economic crisis, climate change. President Obama should be at the forefront of such efforts. As the first President of the Internet Age he needs to harness the web not just for elections but to govern.

Read Tapscott’s full post here.

After the break… more on Tapscott… his new book Grown Up Digital, and… one thought for the next Federal News Radio Book Club book…

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Written by cdorobek

December 2, 2008 at 9:03 AM

NewsBytes: Items worth reading (or hearing)… NASA undergoing hacks… Vivek Kundra… government 2.0… and Safavian pardon watch

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A number of items worth keeping an eye on — between bites of turkey, of course…

NASA under cyber-attack, BusinessWeek reports

BusinessWeek has a story — the first of what I’m sure will be scores of similar type stories — about agencies under cyber-attack. In this instance, it is NASA. We spoke to Keith Epstein, an investigative reporter in BusinessWeek’s Washington bureau, on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday about the story. You can hear that conversation here.

You can read BusinessWeek’s story here.

America’s military and scientific institutions—along with the defense industry that serves them—are being robbed of secret information on satellites, rocket engines, launch systems, and even the Space Shuttle. The thieves operate via the Internet from Asia and Europe, penetrating U.S. computer networks. Some of the intruders are suspected of having ties to the governments of China and Russia, interviews and documents show. Of all the arms of the U.S. government, few are more vulnerable than NASA, the civilian space agency, which also works closely with the Pentagon and American intelligence services.

In April 2005, cyber-burglars slipped into the digital network of NASA’s supposedly super-secure Kennedy Space Center east of Orlando, according to internal NASA documents reviewed by BusinessWeek and never before disclosed. While hundreds of government workers were preparing for a launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery that July, a malignant software program surreptitiously gathered data from computers in the vast Vehicle Assembly Building, where the Shuttle is maintained. The violated network is managed by a joint venture owned by NASA contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Undetected by the space agency or the companies, the program, called stame.exe, sent a still-undetermined amount of information about the Shuttle to a computer system in Taiwan. That nation is often used by the Chinese government as a digital way station, according to U.S. security specialists.

By December 2005, the rupture had spread to a NASA satellite control complex in suburban Maryland and to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, home of Mission Control. At least 20 gigabytes of compressed data—the equivalent of 30 million pages—were routed from the Johnson center to the system in Taiwan, NASA documents show. Much of the data came from a computer server connected to a network that tracks malfunctions that could threaten the International Space Station.

As I say, I’m sure this is just the first of many of these kinds of stories… and it gives you an indication as to why the Bush administration has stepped up its cyber-security initiatives.

Years ago — back in 2005, in fact — FCW had a story headlined, The new Trojan war, that looked at these cyber-security issues.

In mythology, the Greeks found an innovative way to avoid Troy’s defenses. By offering the gift of a huge horse — hollowed out and filled with soldiers — the Greeks were able to bypass Troy’s defenses and attack from the inside.

Today the Pentagon faces a similar situation. Adversaries have been attacking Defense Department computer networks in attempts to bypass the United States’ formidable defenses and attack from the inside out.

Defense and industry officials describe DOD networks as the Achilles’ heel of the powerful U.S. military. Securing military networks is even more critical in an increasingly transformed military in which information is as much a weapon as tanks and assault rifles.

DOD networks have been breached. Department officials acknowledged hackers attacked military networks almost 300 times in 2003 — sometimes by cyber Trojan horses, which can operate within an organization’s network. DOD officials say intrusions reduced the military’s operational capabilities in 2004.

Along those lines, 1105 Media and Juniper are hosting a seminar on the trusted Internet connection initiative — the program designed to trim down the government’s connections to the Internet in order to make them more secure. They have a good agenda lined up. In the morning, there will be presentations by RDML Michael (“Mike”) Brown , the Homeland Security Department’s National Protection and Programs deputy assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications, and OMB’s Karen Evans. I will also be moderating a panel about what TIC means to people on the front lines.

EDITOR’S NOTE AND DISCLOSURE: I am being paid for moderating this panel.

DC’s Vivek Kundra advising Team Obama

We told you about this earlier, but WTOP star reporter Mark Seagraves scored an interview with DC CTO Vivek Kundra and confirmed that he has, indeed, been advising Team Obama on technology issues. Federal News Radio spoke to Seagraves about his interview with Kundra on the Daily Debrief with(out) Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.

The Fenty Administration’s top techie is helping President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team develop new ways to use technology.

Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District, tells WTOP the same applications and innovations he’s brought to the District government can be applied at the federal level.

“I’m advising on what we’ve done in the District of Columbia,” Kundra says. “I think it’s scaleable nationally, and globally, too.”

Kundra isn’t eager to talk about his work with the Obama transition team, preferring to direct the conversation back to his work for the District. But when pressed, Kundra acknowledges the scope of his consultations go beyond the transition.

“I’m advising in terms of some of the ideas that are in the District government that can be leveraged not just in the transition team, but across the country,” says Kundras from his ninth floor office, which overlooks the federal enclave below Capitol Hill.

Read the full story here.

More on government 2.0… and Safavian… after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

November 26, 2008 at 5:53 PM

Apps for Democracy… and my recommendation for Obama’s CTO

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I have been remiss about pointing to Washington, D.C.’s simply remarkable Apps For Democracy program — but it also brings me to the person who would be my recommendation for the new chief technology officer in the Obama administration –DC’s CTO Vivek Kundra.

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of Virtual Alabama, the marvelous program developed by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security… and one part of this amazing program is the power of data — Virtual Alabama is able to take data that already exists and make it available to first responders. It gives them the right information at the right time in the right form — making data usable.

Why not do that for citizens?

Well, that is exactly what Kundra is doing — and he is doing it by making public data transparent and available. Kundra has had a program of making public data available. You can find the District’s data sets at Having done that, Kundra worked with iStrategy Labs to create the Apps For Democracy contest where the District offered up prize money for the best applications that was developed using that public data.

We spoke with Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Wednesday about the program. The results are remarkable.

For example, how would you like to develop a tour of historic Washington on a Google Map that taps into photos from Flickr photo feeds, Wikipedia entries, and government data? Click over to and check it out.

Or maybe you are more practical and you want to find out if there is street parking available someplace in downtown DC? Then check out Park It DC at The application lets you check a specific area in DC for parking information.

Or maybe you go out on a Saturday night and… well, you have too much fun. There is an application called StumbleSafely that lets you find the safest way to walk home that incorporates crime data — again, using public data.

It is a fantastic idea — and a great way to make public information widely available.

To that end, Kundra is one of the best and the brightest out there. He has been doing absolutely innovative things at DC’s CTO — as we reported when I was at Federal Computer Week, Kundra has been very innovative — perhaps one of the most innovative in the country — at actually implementing these Web 2.0 programs in effective ways. From FCW’s March story:

The District of Columbia’s 33-year-old chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, wants to bring government procurement into the world of wikis and YouTube videos.

The test case is fairly straightforward. The city needs a vendor to build a 100,000- square-foot evidence warehouse for the police department, so as always, it issued a request for bids. But then it gets more interesting.

The city also created a wiki to host the solicitation documents. Along with the request for bids, the wiki has an interactive question-and-answer section and a link to complete video coverage of apresolicitation conference for potential bidders. The video link takes bidders to social-networking Web site YouTube.

The city has never handled a major procurement in such a manner. But Mayor Adrian Fenty and the city’s CTO aren’t afraid to try new approaches to the most basic government processes.

“The value that these Web 2.0 technologies demonstrate surpasses the old command- and-control model of application development,” Kundra said. “It’s basically like a movie being played in front of the world.

Continue reading about the collaboration gurus here.

With all the names floated out there for the Obama CTO post, Government Technology is reporting — and I’ve heard it too — Kundra would somebody who could provide strategy — and could help make things happen. And Kundra would be additive to the government — allowing agency CIOs to do their jobs better.

Read more about Kundra on the CTO Vision blog.

Written by cdorobek

November 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM

Obama CTO frenzy: More names in the mix

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So there almost seems to be a frenzy around who might be named the Obama CTO.

The Industry Standard has its selections of 10 contenders (and one real long shot) for Obama’s CTO.

Frankly their list seems like mostly long-shots. Their list includes Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and’s Jeff Bezos — my good friend — kidding.

Most of these seem like long shots to me. First off, most of them would have to give us some of the best jobs in the world — and some of the highest paying jobs in the world. And most of them are used to being able to do what they want — they create the bureaucracy. Are they really going to have to work within the confines of government — even an Obamaized government? Finally, are those people going to be willing to fill out the Obama team’s job application form, which is seven pages long and has more than 60 questions? (The NYT has a copy of the application here. PDF)

The Industry Standard’s actual long-shot is Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, who just announced that he is stepping down from his post.

The list has some more likely names — Julius Genachowski makes their list. As the DorobekInsider told you, he part of the Obama transition leadership and is one of Obama’s former colleagues from the Harvard Law Review. Genachowski seems one of the more likely. The other candidates in their list is Sonal Shah.

Shah is one of the few rumored contenders to have actually worked in government. She currently heads global development initiatives at Google, but prior to that worked at Goldman Sachs, the Center for American Progress, and the U.S. Treasury Department. She’s also advising Obama’s transition team on the CTO search.

They also have Donald Gips

Gips is the vice president of corporate strategy and development for Level 3 Communications, and served Al Gore. Although Gips didn’t help the former vice president invent the Internet, he was Gore’s chief domestic policy advisor and has a deep understanding of technology and communication policies. He too is advisingObama’s transition team.

The Silicon Alley Insider also has a list of CTO candidates.

And’s list, which has been the buzz around town, includes some government IT luminaries:

  • Cisco’s Alan Balutis, who served as the Commerce Department’s chief information officer
  • Bob Gourley, the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now chief technology officer at advisory firm CrucialPoint.
  • Dawn Meyerriecks, a consultant in Washington, D.C., formerly CTO of the Defense Information Systems Agency.
  • Harry Raduege Jr., who was director of DISA and now chairs the Deloitte Center for Network Innovation.

More than the person — we’ll get that when we get it — I’m interested in what role the CTO will play. To that end, this afternoon on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He recently post an item on his blog headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 7:36 AM

Hearing from the creator of… and more on the Obama CTO

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I mentioned earlier the innovative Web site where you can make suggestions for the new, yet-to-be-named (or even defined) Obama chief technology officer, which the WP Friday called “most talked-about tech job in government is one that never before existed.”

Friday on the Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Matt Lerner, the CTO of Front Seat out in Seattle, who created Its important to note that is independent of the Obama transition team. Lerner and I had a wonderful pre-radio conversation about why he created the site. I understand that I focus on this stuff intensely — and there are many in this community, but a young guy in Seattle? It’s great that this stuff is touching people out there.

You can hear our conversation with Lerner here.

On Friday, we also spoke to Eric Lundquist, the editor in chief of eWeek, who argues that the CTO should actually be a CIO. You can hear that conversation here.

Finally, on Tuesday Monday on The Big Show, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an assoiate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He just did a post headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

The precise job description is not yet clear, but how could it be? Technology’s role in American society is boundaryless and constantly increasing, so delineating the CTO’s role is going to be hard. Is it confined to information and communications technology, or should also include other blossoming flields like energy and life sciences? And is the mission to make policy, to allocate resources via something like a venture capital fund, to take control of large portions of the federal government’s IT spending and personnel, and/or to to be an advocate for enlightened use of technology in both the private and public sectors?

Written by cdorobek

November 16, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Obama’s yet-to-be-named CTO suggestion box

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So there is a ton o’ buzz about President-elect Obama’s proposal to create a CTO — a chief technology officer. The proposal came out of the campaign and the then senator made his technology proposal, which included the creation of “the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.” Here is what Obama’s technology platform says:

Bring Government into the 21st Century: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will use technology to reform government and improve the exchange of information between the federal government and citizens while ensuring the security of our networks. Obama and Biden believe in the American people and in their intelligence, expertise, and ability and willingness to give and to give back to make government work better. Obama will appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.

So what should the priorities of the Obama CTO be? Well, you can sound off — and make suggestions. There is a new Web site,, where you can make suggestions… and vote on other’s suggestions for the yet-to-be-named CTO.

I first read about the site on CNet.

While the technology pundits are debating the role of an Obama administration CTO, a few programmers in Seattle yesterday decided to do something more useful. Using an application from UserVoice, they launched, a site, unaffiliated with the Obama machine, that allow citizens to list and vote on what should be the top tech priorities for the new administration.

“User voting is an easy way for people to prioritize ideas,” said Matt Lerner of, which created the site. While the voting on this site is more like on Digg than a scientific sampling, and can be gamed, it is part of the Internet-fueled movement to give more of voice to the populace. The Obama campaign provided ample evidence of the benefits of using the Web for massive outreach. Now the question is how much weight the wisdom of the crowd will carry in influencing the direction of government policy.

Tonight, I actually spoke to Matt Lerner, the… er.. CTO of, and we are going to have him on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris in the 5p ET hour Friday.

After talking to Lerner — who is wonderful — I then found that NextGov’s Tech Insider had written about the site pointing to the NYT Bits blog.

Tech geeks are tickled that come January, one of their kind will be in the White House. With the election of Barack Obama, a text-messaging Facebook user.

Who should get the role of C.T.O. — the geeks’ representative in Washington — has been the subject of intense debate in the tech community. On Tuesday, a few of those geeks started, a Web site with advice for the C.T.O., whomever he or she might be. (Obama has said he planned to get ideas directly from voters, and he is already doing so at his transition Web site,

Obama CTO was built by Front Seat, a small Seattle software company that creates Web sites for civic causes. Its biggest project is Walk Score, a site that ranks neighborhoods by how walkable they are. They got the idea to build Obama CTO around noon on Tuesday and posted it by the afternoon.

The idea came, oddly enough, from the Republicans, who are soliciting citizen ideas online at Rebuild the Party, said Matt Lerner, chief technology officer at Front Seat. He started getting involved in Democratic politics while working at Microsoft in 2004, when he founded Driving Votes to register Democratic voters in swing states. “Appointing a C.T.O. has been an invitation for Silicon Valley to get more involved,” said Mr. Lerner, who co-founded EQuill, a Web development software company, and sold it to Microsoft in 2001. “Hopefully the C.T.O., when elected, will take a look at the site and see what some of the priorities of the community will be.”

Among some of the suggestions on

Open Government Data (APIs, XML, RSS)
We can unleash a wave of civic innovation if we open up government data to programmers. The government has a treasure trove of information: legislation, budgets, voter files, campaign finance data, census data, etc. Let’s STANDARDIZE, STRUCTURE, and OPEN up this data.

Gov to be ran on 100% free software
Premise: Software is licensed to distribute the overhead of its initial development, the cost of which few organizations could afford. Because all government software purchases are made with public funds, the public should be licensed to use it.

Proposition: All future investments are to be made in software that is licensed to grant use and source code access to all governed subjects. Security will be maintained with the use of trusted concepts, including asymmetric cryptography, and not rely on the obscurity of closed source software. Where viable further development of existing operating systems and applications will be funded. Where not viable, or where competition is lacking, new projects will be originated. No patents will be granted for pubic works. Release of existing patents will be used as bargaining in the contract bidding process.

Opinion: The ability of corporations and individuals to support themselves by developing software will not be impeded. On the contrary, the funding will be fair market representations of what the development is worth. The only thing that will change is that public will receive direct benefit from having paid for the software. The result will be a new renaissance in software advancement. We will also realize boons in hardware utilization and life cycle extension, helping to relieve the e-waste crisis.

Allow the public to comment on all legislation

Allow at least a 5 day comment period where the public can comment on all legislation before it is signed into law.

You can vote for suggestions… or make your own.

So tomorrow, we’re going to talk to eWeek editor in chief Eric Lundquist about his column suggesting that the CTO should actually be a CIO… And hear from one of the creators of… on Friday’s Big Show.

Written by cdorobek

November 13, 2008 at 9:57 PM