The Veterans Affairs Department has hired Peter Levin, a White House fellow in the Clinton administration, as its new chief technology officer in the office of the secretary and senior advisor to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Press Secretary Katie Roberts told me.
Roberts said Levin -- a tech whiz who does not mind the moniker "geek" -- will explore visionary technologies for VA while Chief Information Officer Roger Baker will manage the 7,000 person, day-to-day operations of the VA's information technology organization.
Roberts said both Baker and Levin view the CIO-CTO roles as a partnership. "Roger and Peter are creative people and think alike on many things, and feed off of each other when they start brainstorming how things could work," she said. "The good news is Peter has time to work the innovation side, while Roger can be focused on managing the IT enterprise."
My Vietnam veteran buddy, Ed Meagher, who served as the VA deputy CIO from 2001 to 2006, was the first CTO.
But, Roberts pointed out a subtle distinction between the title Meagher held and Levin's. Levin is the first CTO in the office of the secretary, not in the department's CIO shop, she said.
Prior to joining VA, Levin was chief executive officer of DAFCA Inc., an outfit that does stuff with computer chips that I can barely comprehend, which is why Levin qualifies as a geek -- and I don't.
Levin received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 1988 and then spent the next nine years at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., where he won a National Science Foundation Presidential (George .H.W. Bush) Young Investigator Award for his work in high-performance computing.
He still serves on an advisory board at the computer science department at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and as a consulting professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University.
Roberts said Levin has written more than 50 technical articles on topics ranging from global positioning and cybersecurity to advanced simulations of electromagnetic and ultrasonic systems, all of which sound quite geeky.
Baker and Levin, Roberts said, provide Shinseki with the tech insights he needs to develop the "21st Century VA."