Techie-in-Chief

As Inauguration Day approaches, the buzz around the creation of a national chief technology officer has taken center stage. The Web has been rife with speculation on everything from who should win the spot to the issues the new CTO will tackle.

On the candidacy side, whispers of private-sector tech gurus as possible contenders for the CTO position suggest an unprecedented linkage between Silicon Valley and Washington.

“There are some great technology firms that surround the whole Washington area,” said John Murphy, director of technologies for the official site of the U.S. government, USA.gov. “[There would be] the opportunity for more of that [research and development] to rise to the top for the government to take advantage of.”

But some expressed concerns over the possible culture shock that could take place if a private-sector individual were thrown into the bureaucracy of government.

“We need someone more involved in the issues than the software and hardware,” wrote Mike Schaffner, director of information technology for the Valve and Measurement Group of Cameron, in a recent commentary on Forbes.com.

When it comes to issues that the new CTO might face, it seems the biggest question has to do with prioritizing, said Matt Lerner, CTO of FrontSeat.org, a civic software company that recently launched ObamaCTO.org to encourage citizens to comment directly on the new CTO’s top priorities.

“What projects does it make sense for the government to do themselves versus what should happen outside the government?” Lerner said.…


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