For the first time, names other than a Silicon Valley chieftain have surfaced in the media as possible contenders for Barack Obama's federal chief technology officer. Forbes.com reports that Alan Balutis, the Commerce Department's first chief information officer and a Nextgov blogger, is one of the names on the list being considered. Other former feds include, according to Forbes:
--Bob Gourley, chief technology officer at advisory firm CrucialPoint LLC and formerly CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
--Dawn Meyerriecks, a consultant in Washington, D.C., formerly CTO of the Defense Information Systems Agency. Meyerriecks has also done stints at Sun Microsystems and AOL.
--Harry Raduege Jr., who was director of DISA and now chairs the Deloitte Center for Network Innovation.
Elizabeth Corcoran of Forbes made the same point I have: Honchos from Silicon Valley are not that suitable for this position. The CTO will have the gargantuan task of convincing agencies to standardize technologies and running the business of opening up government. That's a task for someone who knows the ins and outs of government and how to get things done in Washington. Reports Forbes: "The job that the Obama team has in mind seems to be less about setting a lofty vision statement for the government and more about orchestrating tactics to get different agencies to cooperate, share best practices and live up to the goal of creating a 'more transparent' government." And, the "job description suggests more nuts and bolts and less glamor than some might envision." And finally: "The job will ultimately demand the finesse of a diplomat--which is seldom a trait of the most successful chief executive officers."
Balutis has more than 30 years of government experience and is widely known throughout the federal IT community, which includes inside government and among federal IT contractors. The others are highly respected in the federal IT circles but bring a decidedly Defense perspective, which depending on the Obama administrationâ€™s view of what kind of person would be best suited for the job, could be a plus or a minus.