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Obama Shakes Up IT Leadership; Names New Director of White House IT

The White House's new IT Director, David Recordon

The White House's new IT Director, David Recordon // Flickr user Joi Ito

President Barack Obama has tasked a former Facebook engineer with helping modernize White House technology amid a broader overhaul of the IT leadership structure at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

David Recordon, who’s been serving since last March as a White House consultant as part of the administration’s high-tech U.S. Digital Service team, is rotating into a newly created position aimed at ensuring White House tech is “efficient, effective and secure,” according to a White House blog post.

As director of White House information technology, Recordon’s job duties will include “converging overlapping systems, modernizing software used to collaborate and bringing use of new technologies in line with private sector best practices,” according to the blog post. “This work will both benefit the operations of the White House and also help pave the way for improvements across the federal government," the post added.

Obama officially carved out the new role in a presidential memorandum sent to the heads of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget and others. The new IT director is responsible for “operating and maintaining the information resources and information systems” provided to the president, vice president and other staff members in the executive office of the president, according to the memo.

Last fall, the White House’s unclassified networks were hacked and the Obama administration eventually hauled in its team of former Silicon Valley tech mavens to help patch up network security.

Later, the two top White House IT officials at the time -- the chief information officer and deputy chief information officer of the Executive Office of the President -- both left for jobs in the private sector.

Obama’s new memo also mandates the creation of an “executive committee for presidential information technology” to advise the new IT director.

The new executive committee will be made up of:

  • The assistant to the president for management and administration
  • The executive secretary of the National Security Council
  • The director of the White House Office of Administration
  • The director of the United States Secret Service; and
  • The director of the White House Military Office, whose White House Communications Agency arm is responsible for securing the president’s classified communications.

Recordon’s hiring is part of a growing trend of top Silicon Valley techies who have joined the White House in recent months. In February, DJ Patil, formerly of LinkedIn and RelateIQ, signed on as the White House’s first-ever chief data scientist. Last summer, officials announced the launch of the White House digital team led by former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson.

“In our continued efforts to serve our citizens better, we’re bringing in top tech leaders to support our teams across the federal government,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Recordon’s “considerable private sector experience and ability to deploy the latest collaborative and communication technologies will be a great asset to our work on behalf of the American people,” Obama added.

Last month, the White House appointed Tony Scott, a former VMware executive, to serve as the federal chief information officer, a policy-setting role with oversight of the government’s entire $80-plus billion IT spend.

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