RealTime IT News

Obama CTO: IT at the 'Main Table' in White House

The White House is racing to integrate technology and innovation into its day-to-day operations, Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra said today in a keynote address at the Supercomm conference.

Technology isn't just a priority on its own sake, Chopra said. Rather, he is exploring areas where technology can have the greatest impact on developing smart policies for the United States.

"Today in the Obama administration we have the voice of technology right at the main table equal to and side-by-side with the president's national economic team, our teams around energy and health care," Chopra said. "We have about 25 assistants to the president that gather on every major topic every single day and we ensure that the voice of technology innovation is heard in areas one may not otherwise consider to be top of mind."

Obama selected Chopra in April to fill the newly created CTO position. In the time since, he's been active pitching the White House's message of technology innovation and transparency around the country.

According to Chopra, the United States is still in the infancy of the digital era and more change is coming. Perhaps no sector is poised for more upheaval on the tech front that the government.

"For those of us in public policy, we haven't really embraced technology and innovation in the work that we do," Chopra said.

In that light, Chopra noted that the Obama administration is committed to supporting technology innovation that provides a smart, secure and robust infrastructure.

"We as a nation are at our best when we invest in the building blocks of innovation," Chopra said. "We also acknowledge that as a nation we need to invest in research and development."

He added that the current U.S. government research and development portfolio receives $150 billion per year. Moving forward, Chopra said that the Obama administration is committed to doubling the core research and development investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as well as the Department of Science within the Energy Department.

"These core basic science assets in the federal government are critical to our long-term economic prosperity," Chopra said.

In addition to investment in technology innovation, Chopra said that openness in government as well as competition in the private sector are key to the nation's success.

"The bottom line is as you look to the nation's innovation innovate strategy, it sends a clear signal that we need a vibrant and progressive infrastructure and application environment that will deliver game-changing capabilities in areas we have yet to even imagine," Chopra said.

Chopra did not specifically call out the issue of network neutrality, though he did talk about the ideal of preserving openness in the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission today voted to initiate a rule-making process to establish firm Net neutrality rules for U.S. ISPs.

"We have said that we believe in the openness of Internet as having been a key factor in the success of the economy of the nation's economy," Chopra said. "But we also understand that for the next wave of technology-based economic growth we see a tremendous wave of further opportunity if we did more to secure the nation's infrastructure respectful of the cybersecurity threats that we know are real."

Chopra also said the Obama administration is committed to taking a leading role in technology adoption as well. Just last month, the government's CIO, Vivek Kundra, outlined a plan for migrating the government to a cloud-based infrastructure. Chopra also cited the revamped WhiteHouse.gov website as another example of how the White House is embracing technology.

"If you monitor the Internet traffic on WhiteHouse.gov, it has skyrocketed by thousands of percent because we've driven more video into the site," Chopra said. "We're leading by example, and increasing the utilization of these assets."