Google Exec Named New Federal Chief Technology Officer

Flickr user Hubert Burda Media

Megan Smith becomes third person to hold the title.

Google executive Megan Smith will be the third person to hold the title of federal chief technology officer, the White House announced Thursday, and former Twitter attorney Alexander Macgillivray was named deputy CTO.

Smith most recently served as a vice president of Google X, the Internet giant’s forward-thinking research arm. She previously helped the company with new business, working on projects such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.”

Before her stint at Google, Smith helped launch and then became CEO of PlanetOut, which operated several LGBT websites and later merged with Gay.com. She studied mechanical engineering at MIT.

Macgillivray, a “practicing” coder, according to the White House, served as Twitter’s general counsel from 2009 to 2013 earning a reputation as the site's "free speech defender." He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard Law School School.

Both Smith and Macgillivray were considered potential replacements for Todd Park, who stepped down from the CTO post last week to take on a new Silicon Valley-based recruiting position.

Smith will be the first woman to hold the top technologist position.

Obama created the federal CTO position within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy by an executive action on his first day in office. Despite the efforts of some lawmakers, the role is not statutorily required, and it's unclear what might happen to it under future administrations.

Obama named Aneesh Chopra to the post in May 2009. Chopra was succeeded in March 2012 by Park.

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