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Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra on the Government’s Role in Technology

Aneesh Chopra, Federal CTO
Aneesh Chopra, Federal CTO

Aneesh Chopra, America’s first Federal CTO, spoke at the Digital Downtown event in New York City this week on two different but interconnected topics: the role of government in technology and the role of technology in government. Mr. Chopra gave an enthusiastic crowd of consumer electronics journalists and analysts his thoughts on the major challenges facing government in the digital economy. Bottom line: Government must innovate and become more efficient, or perish, and the success necessitates the proper application of technology.

Chopra outlined four pillars of government’s role in technology:

  1. Drive economic growth with technological innovation.
  2. Apply innovative technology solutions to the administration’s priorities in healthcare, energy, and education. 
  3. Strengthen security of and public confidence in internet infrastructure
  4. Provide transparent and participatory government by leveraging technological innovation

Chopra mentioned several successful applications of technology from his previous role as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. When faced with the problem that over a million Virginia residents lacked a high school diploma , Chopra discovered a series of educational videos on GED preparation topics which were available only on videotape. A few phone calls later, Chopra was convinced local cable operators to host educational videos on demand via their cable boxes, resulting in over 6,000 downloads of educational material in the first few months of availability without a single new law or regulation.

Chopra adamantly stated that solutions to most technological challenges did not come from legislation, but from a working partnership with private industry.  He added that while money must be allocated in to solve America’s technology problems, practical success only comes through collaboration between government and the private sector.

Chopra said he believes in measurement and accountability and is helping to develop a scorecard system that will allow citizens to measure his progress on the job, drawing on his successful implementation of Virginia’s Virginia Performs web site, which provides state residents a scorecard of exactly how their tax dollars are being put to use.

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