Nominations, please

Obama has said that if (and when) is he elected, he’ll appoint a chief technical officer of government. Just wondering: Who would make a great U.S. CTO? And why?

  • Steve Ballmer.

    Because his name is Steve …


  • Harrison

    Jeff Bezos. True, he’s not strictly a tech guy, but he knows how to manage a huge organization effieciently.

  • lil j


  • Jeff Bezos, Ray Ozzie, Joe Trippi, and Pierre Omidyar might make the short list. They’ve all shown visionary technical judgment and worked at the top of large organizations.

  • Doc Searls. I trust him.

  • Eric Jaffa

    Obama’s CTO…would ensure government officials hold open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan.”

    I nominate Adam Bonin. He’s a lawyer for the Daily Kos blog and an advocate of making more information related to politics available online.

  • I like Dan’s list of choices.

    Is Bill Gates busy these days? He might be as polarizing to the tech community as Hillary is in politics. The EU might have an opinion on such stewardship, of course. Every candidate will have of course baggage and bias… some have more than others.

  • Paul

    Sadly anyone who would actually do a good job is probably not foolish enough to take the job. Which is generally true of any high ranking federal job.

  • Lessig.

  • carson
  • KSee

    Anyone under the age of 25.

  • Michael

    I would say Lawrence Lessig, although I’m sure there are other equally qualified candidates. Hiring an actual industry leader (Balmer, Bezos, Gates, etc.) to regulate the industry he used to work in and will likely work in again seems completely at odds with Obama’s stated intention of ‘fixing’ Washington. We need someone like Lessig, who has an in depth understanding of how law and technology interact. We don’t need an actual technological innovator in the cabinet, so much as we need somebody who understands how the government affects technological innovation.

  • Dave_Violence

    Preferably someone with a Ph.D. in a branch of engineering. With experience as a college professor as well as experience as CEO of a large commercial venture. And with experience working for the Federal government.

    …and a viral 80+ years old.

  • LC

    The CTO needs to understand the importance of nationally available, affordable, fast broadband and net neutrality.

    So that means people like Andreesen, Vinton Cerf, Berners-Lee: people involved in the design/development of Arpanet, TCP/IP, http, browsers – all the backbone stuff that makes the internet work because it’s not owned by a profit-making company.

  • Jeff Goldblum. He saved the entire world with a Mac Powerbook G3.

  • Mark Murphy

    Agree w/ Michael. We need somebody outside of industry titans who still has vision. I like the Doc Searls and Lawrence Lessig suggestions. Joi Ito might be interesting, though he may still be a Japanese citizen. James Boyle is another possibility.

  • Sounds more like a Web transparency ombudsman than a CTO proper, but I agree that Lawrence Lessig would be awesome.

    So would Scoble.

  • Garbanzo

    Huh? Clearly, the readership of this blog is very short on folks with real technical management or executive experience. Having known several CIOs of large governmental organizations, the big task of a government CIO is to get things done in a highly bureaucractic and slow-moving world with an unlimited pool of key stakeholders but no real power. Vision is fine, but the IT world is long on idea and short on execution. On the federal level, a competent CIO who could improve the government’s basic “blocking and tackling” would be far more impactful than some dot.commer (a CIO under the 25! Geez, what a naif!).

    This isn’t a beauty contest — this position would be quite grueling. Making the federal CIO function like the director of national intelligence really isn’t a viable option (i.e., ripping all the department-level CIOs and having them report into the federal CIO), so there’s going to be dozens of dotted line reports in the Office of the Federal CIO. What a governance nightmare! As for candidates, probably someone who’s run a large technology company or better yet, someone who was a former CIO who has since ascended to the CEO level of a public company.

  • Doug Chase

    Paul above has it right, but I’d be giddy to see Ed Felten, Susan Crawford, or Larry Lessig nominated.

  • Leonard Nimoy.

  • Our country’s first CTO was Vannevar Bush, who served during World War II under Roosevelt as director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. (The Manhattan project was only one of many projects that OSRD was responsible for.) Bush is also the guy who, in July 1945, wrote the Atlantic Monthly article “As We May Think” which was the seed from which hypertext and the Web grew.

    It would be difficult to find a CTO today who could follow Bush’s example.

    bob wyma