Federal CTO Chopra Stepping Down

Back in 2009, President Obama appointed the country’s first federal Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, in an effort by the administration to push the government past old technology and into the 21st century. Chopra is now stepping down from his post, and the move was announced (appropriately) in a blog post on the official White House website.

Chopra was sworn in on May 22 of that year, and in the nearly three years since, he has, according to the post, been busy:
Aneesh helped design the President’s National Wireless Initiative, including the development of a nationwide public safety broadband network, establish a set of Internet Policy Principles including the call for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, and led the implementation of the President’s open government strategy focused on unlocking the innovative potential of the federal government to solve problems and seed the jobs and industries of the future.

The U.S. government has not exactly been known as a hotbed of tech mavens, from stories of important federal agencies using hopelessly ancient computers to the infamous Ted Stevens “series of tubes” speech. When Obama took office and refused to relinquish his BlackBerry, it was refreshing--regardless of your politics and personal feelings about him--to see a sitting president who was, if not tech-savvy, at least moderately aware of current technology and how to use it.

In any case, Obama was aware enough about technology and its role in the 21st century to see fit to create a federal post dedicated to overseeing and driving forward technology in the U.S. Now, his first appointee in that role is moving on. There is a widely held assumption that Chopra’s next step will be running for lieutenant governor of Virginia, the state where he was previously the secretary of technology from 2005-2009.