The US urgently needs a new Chief Technology Officer

Last month, my Institute for Education, a nonprofit that focuses on bipartisanship and the power of soft diplomacy, hosted an event celebrating the “Civic Tech Revolution.” The event honored Justice Stephen Breyer for his decades of service on the Supreme Court and his dedication to understanding technology and our changing world. Our program features a panel of government technology leaders, including US Chief Information Officer Denise Ross, US Digital Corps leaders, Presidential Innovation Grantees and other often-overlooked leaders working to bring modern government to the American people. .

As I listened to the ten years of hard work these leaders of the civil technology movement had, I was stuck on one key point of the event. President Biden did not continue the important bipartisan practice of appointing America’s chief technology officer. It sends a symbolic message that the current administration values ​​the civic technology movement to make government more accessible and efficient. In practice, this has left hundreds of civil servants without adequate leadership to carry out their work.

As part of his 2008 presidential campaign At that time, the candidate Barack Obama promised “Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century.” This person will “lead the interagency effort to ensure the security of our networks and to work with the chief technology and information officers of each federal agency to use the best technologies and share best practices.”

Shortly after taking office, Obama made good on his promise by nominating Anesh Chopra to the position of Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Chopra – who served as technology secretary to then-Gov Virginia Tim Kaine β€” Confirmed by the Senate in May 2009. During his eight years in office, Obama appointed three CTOs.

The creation of the role of CTO at the highest levels of our government sent an important message domestically and internationally – America was ready to lead the charge to provide democratic government for the 21st century. In fact, the president had rules for every important decision he made. there must be a technologist in the room. The president and his technical directors worked on the installation tech “entrepreneurs in residence” across government agencies. Obama’s the second CTO Saved by Todd Park and supported open data. Its third CTO, Megan Smith, is a mechanical engineer. committed to diversifying the nation’s tech talent. The effort was so successful that Obama signed a bipartisan deal shortly before leaving office in January 2017. American Innovation and Competitiveness Act among other things US CTO role made permanent.

When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the nascent civilian tech service was in doubt about what its future would be. Some of the tech superstars who were heavily recruited by Silicon Valley to DC quickly returned to the West Coast. By 2019, however, Trump has demonstrated his commitment to a government that has moved with the times. Appointed Michael Kratsios, assistant to Peter Thiel, as US CTO. The CTO tradition continues and continues to deliver results to citizens.

A few months into his third year in office, President Biden has not done enough to continue the important practice of choosing America’s tech leader. A whole year ago His administration launched a search The fifth CTO of the United States, but remains unfulfilled. The country faces a number of pressing issues, but the longer the CTO role is left unfulfilled, the faster America will fall behind the rest of the modern world.

In Estonia they are safe and secure online voting. In France, the government used crowdsourcing help create new digital laws. The Great Britain ranks first According to a 2016 United Nations survey of countries using e-government to deliver services to citizens. Without leadership at the top, the incredible technologists, data analysts, and innovators dedicated to serving our government cannot bring the future of government to the American people.

Kathy “Coach” Kemper is the Executive Director and Founder of the Education Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging the global community to harness the power of data, innovation, and soft diplomacy.

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