Waiting for a Chief Technology Officer

In a January 21 memorandum, President Obama directed the Chief Technology Officer to coordinate the development of an Open Government Directive that would implement the Administration’s principles of transparency.

But there is no Chief Technology Officer (CTO), so far.

And there are fundamental questions about the nature, role, authority, budget, and status of such a position that remain to be answered.  Many of the uncertainties involved are usefully delineated in a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

Up to now, the CRS report said, it is unknown “where a CTO would be located organizationally; whether a CTO would be a single position or supported by a staff, office, or agency; and how the duties and authorities of a CTO would be aligned and integrated with existing offices and agencies charged with similar responsibilities.”

Further, “The President has not indicated whether he intends to establish a CTO position by executive order or other administrative process, or whether he will seek legislation.”

Even more fundamentally, “What would be the scope of duties and authorities given to this position?”

Finally, the CRS astutely observed, “while the duties envisioned for a CTO may affect President Obama’s choice for the [position], the attributes of the person appointed to serve as CTO may, in part, define the role of CTO.”

See “A Federal Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration: Options and Issues for Consideration,” January 21, 2009.

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