Obama taps America's top techie

iTunes pusher named ADfTutWHoSaTP


US President Barack Obama has named Virginia's current secretary of technology to be the country's first "CTO," charged with making the federal government more responsive and efficient through applied technology.

Aneesh Chopra officially got the nod Sunday morning during Obama's weekly radio and internet address.

Obama said America's first chief techie will "promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities — from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."

Obama said he'll work closely with previously-appointed US "chief information officer," Vivek Kundra, who's responsible for setting technology policy across the government.

The White House added that one of Chopra's priorities will include boosting the country's broadband access, although no other specific goals were yet mentioned.

In Chopra's six years as Virginia's secretary of tech, he's backed several interesting initiatives there such as the penning of the country's first officially-approved open source textbook, the Physics Flexbook. He's also pushed forward "Virginia on iTunes U," an effort to provide free access to state-approved educational materials on the Apple storefront.

Chopra will now serve as an assistant to the president. His formal title is associate director for technology under the White House of Science and Technology Policy office — although obviously CTO has a better ring than ADfTutWHoSaTP.

Although some had been calling for a Silicon Valley veteran to take the position, Obama's appointment was lauded by executives from tech heavyweights like Google and Intel.

Alan Davidson, Google's director of government relations and public policy wrote on the company's public policy blog:

"Chopra's record of being unafraid to experiment and push government to better serve citizens bodes well for his performance is facing difficult challenges and great opportunities," Davidson wrote.

Groups like the Consumer Electronics Association and the Business Software Alliance were also quick to release statements of support.

"Aneesh Chopra is a superb choice," BSA chief Robert Hollyman said in statement. "He will bring a unique combination of vision and real-world experience to the role. We are equally encouraged by the visionary role that the President has planned for the CTO: that he will be a member of the President's senior economic policy team; will play a leading role in putting IT to work for the American people; and will serve as an 'evangelist' for policies to spur innovation and economic growth." ®

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