Obama’s Chief Technology Officer in Cisco’s Back Yard
Apparently, when Aneesh Chopra, President Obama’s new Chief Technology Officer, first moved into the White House, he couldn’t check his online finances at Mint.com properly because the browsers on White House PCs were so old. Last night at Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, Chopra told a gathering of 300 Silicon Valley leaders attending a Churchill Club event, that his browser experience was reflective of America’s under-investment in technology in the past ten years. Citing an ITIF report Chopra highlighted that the US is now #40 on the list of countries improving their innovation ranking, #22 on the list of most improved eGovernment nations and #15 in terms of trends in Higher Education attainment.While those stats might have been interpreted as a wagging finger at the Valley, Chopra’s ‘geek cool’ (“Where are my Cnet boys?”) and his use of Silicon Valley’s favorite technology, Microsoft PowerPoint, to guide his presentation (“sorry, the text is really small…you won’t be able to read that.”), soon made it clear that Chopra plans to be a friend of the Valley.So what was his message to Cisco, and the other listeners?Chopra says he plans to focus on:(a) the technology ‘Building Blocks’ of the nation, namely building a smart, secure technology infrastructure, intelligently investing the Government’s $150Bn R&D budget, and investing in a 21st Century Workforce.(b) to promote the use of technology in addressing the nation’s biggest issues: healthcare IT, Smart Grids and Education, and (c) to promote an Open Government Culture the champions transparency, participation and collaboration.Chopra didn’t elaborate whether he has a new browser for his PC yet, but he did point to some early successes as evidence of the sense of urgency he spoke of regularly during his address.Chopra’s team has already launched an IT Dashboard (which carries the moniker ‘beta’…another nod to the Valley) where citizens can view exactly how the Government is spending its $76Bn IT budget.Would-be citizens have also had the shroud of secrecy lifted from the citizenship and Green Card application processes, thanks to a Chopra-led overhaul of the USCIS web site.And in response to a question about job creation, Chopra also indicated he is working on better Web-based solutions to connect the nation’s job-seekers with the nations’ open positions.So…Smart Grids, Healthcare IT, an intelligent infrastructure built for video, and plenty of comments about increased use of blogs and Wikis in Government. Chopra sounds like someone with whom we could have a lot in common.