Posts from February, 2009

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.

War in Afghanistan, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service provides an extensive overview of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and the choices that confront U.S. policy makers.

“The U.S. Government faces key strategic and operational decisions about its further engagement in the war in Afghanistan. These may include clarifying U.S. national interests in Afghanistan and the region; defining clear strategic objectives based on those interests; determining which diplomatic, economic, and military approaches to adopt, and what resources to commit to support those approaches; prioritizing ‘Afghanistan’ versus other national security imperatives; and helping marshal a coordinated application of international efforts.”

See “War in Afghanistan: Strategy, Military Operations, and Issues for Congress” (pdf), January 23, 2009.

Other noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following (all pdf).

“Homeland Security Intelligence: Perceptions, Statutory Definitions, and Approaches,” updated January 14, 2009.

“Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza (2008-2009),” January 15, 2009.

“Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments,” updated January 28, 2009.

“The Special Inspector General (SIG) for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP),” January 14, 2009.

“Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Set to Expire in 2009,” January 6, 2009.