Tech groups praise Obama's pick for federal CTO

Aneesh Chopra tapped for CTO job; will work closely on tech issues with CIO Vivek Kundra

Tech vendors and trade groups are praising President Barack Obama's appointment of Aneesh Chopra as the U.S. government's chief technology officer, saying that the former secretary of technology for Virginia has strong experience using IT to make government more responsive to citizens.

The appointment, announced Saturday, "is an important step in bringing the federal government's information systems into the 21st century," Alan Davidson, Google's director of government relations and public policy, wrote on the company's public policy blog. "As Virginia's technology czar, Aneesh has been relentless in applying technology to make government work better for citizens — from requiring state government agencies to make their sites more crawlable, to integrating iTunes with the state's educational system."

While some people within the tech community had called for the government's first official CTO to come from Silicon Valley, Google doesn't think that was necessary, Davidson said. Google CEO Eric Schmidt had been mentioned as a possible candidate for the CTO position.

"Chopra's record of being unafraid to experiment and push government to better serve citizens bodes well for his performance in facing difficult challenges and great opportunities," Davidson added in his blog post.

Obama, announcing the appointment during his weekly address, said Chopra will "promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities — from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."

Chopra will work closely with newly appointed Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients and federal CIO Vivek Kundra, who was named to his post earlier this year, to make technology work better for U.S. taxpayers, Obama said.

"The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we're spending their money — and can hold us accountable for the results," he said. "With the leadership of these individuals, I am confident that we can break our bad habits, put an end to the mismanagement that has plagued our government and start living within our means again."

Chopra will "promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities" as part of his job, Obama said, citing goals such as creating jobs, reducing health care costs and supporting national security efforts. Kundra, meanwhile, is responsible for setting technology policies and overseeing IT spending throughout the federal government.

In addition to the words of support from Google, Chopra's appointment was praised by Intel, Sun Microsystems, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Consumer Electronics Association, TechAmerica and the Business Software Alliance.

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