Trump nominates chief technology officer

By on 25/03/2019
Michael Kratsios has been appointed as the USA’s federal CTO (Image courtesy: Shealah Craighead).

President Trump will appoint his first chief technology officer (CTO) to shape policy and drive forward the government’s technology agenda, the White House announced on Thursday.

Michael Kratsios, who has been serving as deputy CTO since 2017, is to be promoted to the top job after it remained vacant for more than two years. Before joining the White House the 32 year-old served as chief of staff at investment firm Thiel Capital.

The post sits within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Kratsios will lead on the development and execution of government tech initiatives such as artificial intelligence, 5G and broadband communications and quantum computing. He has already been heavily involved in the development of the national AI strategy released last month. 

Positive reaction

France Cordova, director of US agency the National Science Foundation – which supports research – said she was “thrilled” by the announcement. “Through Michael’s efforts and support for research at the White House, America will be a leader among nations in artificial intelligence and quantum information science,” she said in a statement to NextGov.

Aneesh Chopra, who served as the first US CTO under the Obama administration, also applauded the selection of Kratsios. In a statement to FedScoop, Chopra said: “He has demonstrated sound judgment on prioritising policies that will enhance American competitiveness in the jobs and industries of the future, and for working collaboratively across the public and private sectors to spark breakthroughs.”

A decade of CTOs

Kratsios will become the fourth person to take on the top tech job since it was first created in 2009 under the Obama administration. Succeeding Chopra in 2012 was Todd Park, former CTO of the Health and Human Services Department; followed by Google executive Megan Smith, who served as CTO from 2014. It has remained vacant since Smith left the post in 2017.

The White House said Kratsios will also serve as assistant director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. His government role focuses on policymaking to support technology industries as well as the development of new technologies in public services, and sits alongside the chief information officer’s position – which focuses on the management and improvement of digital services and systems across the federal government. Suzette Kent’s appointment in the latter role was announced a year ago.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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