Tech leaders to transform government

Monday - 4/20/2009, 7:37am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas

Two presidential appointments designed to streamline government.

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By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio

With an eye to the future and with the goal of re-casting the government, President Obama announced two appointments to his staff long awaited by the federal government community.

The President made official the announcement of the two key posts during his Saturday radio and internet address.

I have named Jeffrey Zients, a leading CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur, to serve as Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget and as the first ever Chief Performance Officer. Jeffrey will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find best practices throughout our government.

Aneesh Chopra, who is currently the Secretary of Technology for Governor Kaine of Virginia, has agreed to serve as America's Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities - from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure.

Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs.

The appointment of Zients to the chief performance officer will hopefully allow the President to put behind him one of several missteps by his transition team. Mr. Obama's first choice for the newly created position, Nancy Killefer, withdrew in February over tax problems.

Zients, a founder and managing partner of the investment firm Portfolio Logic, has 20 years of business experience as a chief executive, management consultant and entrepreneur. Several years ago, he played a role in the effort to bring baseball back to the Nation's Capital.

As for Aneesh Chopra, he has been Virginia's Technology Secretary since he was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine in 2006. He has reportedly been under consideration for a number of posts in the Obama Administration.

The Washington Post reports that Chopra was part of the President's transition team, putting in long hours preparing Mr. Obama to take office on January 20th. He was one of 50 volunteers from across the country who made up a policy group on technology, innovation and government reform.

Chopra is a former managing director with the Advisory Board Company, a for-profit think tank providing guidance to 2,500 health systems and hospitals.

On Feb. 3, Nancy Killefer, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., withdrew her candidacy to be chief performance officer, saying she didn't want her mishandling of payroll taxes on her household help to become a distraction for the administration. Killefer was one of several Obama choices for top positions who have dealt with tax problems.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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On the Web:
White House Press Office - Complete text of President Obama's weekly radio & internet address 4/18/2009

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