Last night I was able to meet Vivek Kundra, the new Chief Information Officer of the federal government, at an event organized by Full Circle Fund and the Craigslist Foundation hosted by IBM at their offices on Market Street in San Francisco. For me, it's an amazing change. In the last month, I've been able to meet Obama's CIO, the new CTO, Aneesh Chopra, and the head of the White House Office of Social Innovation, Sonal Shah, all in small group settings where every attendee got to speak.
These three are hopefully representative of the technology and innovation agenda of the new administration. They are all coming out to the San Francisco Bay Area, a hotbed of tech and innovation, primarily to listen. But, it's also clear that they have a really clear grasp of many of the issues facing innovation in the federal government, tempered with a healthy dose of reality.
In the tech area, Vivek Kundra noted that the annual IT budget of the federal government is $76 billion. Imagine if 5-10% of that were spent more effectively: that would change the course of billions of dollars.
I'm excited, and looming forward to engaging further in discussions with these leaders and doing what I can to help them bring the federal government into this century!
Here's some background on these three key White House staffers.
Aneesh Paul Chopra joined the Obama Administration this Spring as the nation's first chief technology officer. Previously Virginia's secretary of technology, Chopra will "promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland," according to the White house. Silicon Valley heavy Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media thinks Obama made a great choice. "Chopra has been one of those who have taught me the most about how we can build a better government with the help of technology."
Vivek Kundra is the nation's first Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO). Formerly the chief technology officer the nation's capital city, Washington DC, his job now is to direct "the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending," according to the White house.
SONAL SHAH :
Sonal Shah, Former head of global development initiatives for Google.org, joined the Obama Administration in April as the first director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, a new office. Shah, an economist, is already blogging for the White House on topics such as strengthening civic participation and open government.