Legislation that would statutorily codify the White House chief technology officer position was introduced Thursday by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who believes the job, proposed by President Obama on the campaign trail, is too important to isolate in a single administration. Making the CTO a permanent position in the executive branch will give the individual "greater stature and empower him/her to accomplish the goals of the president," he wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated the same day. Obama has not yet selected his CTO but did tap former District of Columbia e-government expert Vivek Kundra to become the federal government's CIO.
Obama has said the CTO will ensure that the government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The individual will also ensure the safety of high-tech networks and will lead an interagency effort, working with CTOs and CIOs in each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices, according to Connolly's letter. The bill would provide the official with resources that are necessary to complete his or her mission, including the ability to convene hearings, conduct studies, establish advisory panels, and award grants and fellowships.
Earlier this year, Connolly and Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., wrote to Obama praising him for signing the executive order that created the CTO post and recommended Virginia CTO Aneesh Chopra for the job. They said Chopra's public and private experience in the technology field made him the right candidate. They also noted his focus on healthcare IT "is ideal for a position that will have responsibilities dealing both with stimulus spending on healthcare and environmental programs." Moran and Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, have signed on as cosponsors of the CTO Act.