Federal CTO To Have Broad Influence - InformationWeek
06:00 PM
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Federal CTO To Have Broad Influence

Two key jobs await the CTO: Giving the tech sector what it needs to thrive, and making sure agencies use IT well.

The tech industry's eyes are on the White House, anticipating President Obama's nomination of the country's first federal CTO.

Having indicated that he will look to technology to help solve the nation's myriad socioeconomic problems, Obama likely will focus the CTO on two areas: ensuring that the tech sector gets what it needs from the government in the form of R&D money, tax incentives, regulatory relief, and direct funding; and ensuring that government agencies do a better job of evaluating, deploying, integrating, and supporting IT.

It's still unclear how much authority the CTO will have. There has been some talk of it being a Cabinet-level post, but the White House hasn't specified; the CTO could serve in an advisory capacity.

Either way, the CTO will need a seat at the table during policy and budget discussions. "It's going to help in terms of how quickly the government is going to be able to implement and ramp up IT solutions," says Jeremy Potter, an analyst with Input, a consulting firm.

Both the government and the tech industry stand to benefit from incorporating IT expertise into discussions about employment, R&D, alternative energy, education, green infrastructure, and other issues. For example, the House of Representatives has proposed $1 billion in training and re-employment services for 270,000 dislocated workers. Some of that money will be spent on technology for job centers, schools, and other training.

A CTO could oversee additional funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and similar institutions. And a CTO could have some say in standards for the construction of green data centers. Then there are the more obvious IT-oriented goals of moving toward electronic health records, expanding broadband Internet access, and addressing privacy.

The Internet Presidency
Obama's pioneering use of the Web and other technologies.
The White House has said the CTO will focus on using technology to improve communications between government and citizens, and to enhance network security. It also has stated that the person will coordinate interagency efforts to select best-in-class technologies and share best practices.

Federal agency CIOs now collaborate through the Chief Information Officers Council, which falls under the Office of Management and Budget. It's still unclear how the federal CTO will slot into that structure; the extent of the CTO's authority and jurisdiction will determine how smoothly the government is able to promote interoperability.

The person who fills the role--names floated include District of Columbia CTO Vivek Kundra, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt--is expected to be a champion for the tech industry, too.

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Lando

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll