Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra Details Early Plans

offered an early look at his new role, priorities, and plans Tuesday, saying he would focus on game-changing innovations.
At the American Council of Technology and Industry Advisory Council's Management of Change Conference in Norfolk, VA, in one of his first public appearances since being confirmed as the nation's new Federal CTO, he said he was still in the early stages of refining his approach to the new job. But the former Virginia Secretary of Technology sketched out his vision for how his duties would unfold and where he'd concentrate his efforts. Chopra said his main focus would revolve around four themes:
First: bringing as much policy rigor as possible in trying to transform the national economy through tech-based innovation. “It will be important to think about how we introduce policy to foster innovation“ at national, state, and local levels.
Second: looking for game-changing was to address the new administration's priorities through “innovation platforms,“ new approaches using technology. He specified three areas where he planned to concentrate his efforts:

Aneesh Chopra, Federal CTO
Aneesh Chopra, Federal CTO

Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra

  • Open standards. “We need the private sector to lead, but we need a culture of open standards,“ he said. Not infringement of intellectual property, but open standards, and applications which could be easily shared and replicated would remain at the center of efforts to drive innovation.
  • Government research and development. Chopra also detailed a new approach to government's involvement in technology development. “There's an emerging debate of how far up the (R&D) food chain we should go,“ and said he would focus on “the middle ground, south of procurement and north of R&D.“
  •  Crowd-sourcing. Chopra said the government would continue to tap into crowd-sourced, user-based networks, to collect new ideas and fuel public-sector innovation.

Third: delivering on the president's commitment to strengthening digital infrastructure, including making broadband access throughout the country, he said, but noting cybersecurity as a pressing concern. “We must have platforms for growth, as well as strategies to make sure they are secure,“ he said, referring to President Barack Obama's new cybersecurity strategy.
Speaking to software development community, Chopra said “We're going to have start a dialogue to develop bug-free software or bug-free software development.” Chopra cited examples of data breaches arising from careless software development.

Finally: fostering greater transparency, citizen participation and collaboration.
Chopra reiterated the administration's position on taking a new, more open approach, calling the traditional model “backwards.“ He said the government would use new technology to collect public input and then craft policy, rather than awaiting public reaction to decisions.
He also spoke about cutting health care costs and improving education with innovative technology, suggesting the possibility of working with the General Services Administration to develop an “innovation sandbox“ where project ideas could be tested and shared across the government.

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Written by Neel Mehta

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