White House officials confirmed that President Obama today is appointing Todd Park as the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer, stepping into the position formerly held by Aneesh Chopra.
Park will have “the important task of applying the newest technology and latest advances to make the Federal government work better for the American people,” said John P. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the man who will be Park’s new boss, in a White House blog posted just after 1:00 p.m. this afternoon.
Park, who joined the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2009, “led the successful execution of an array of breakthrough initiatives, including the creation of HealthCare.gov, the first website to provide consumers with a comprehensive inventory of public and private health insurance plans available across the nation by zip code in a single, easy-to-use tool,” Holdren said.
Park “was a hugely energetic force for positive change,” said Holdren, who is President Obama’s top science adviser.
His work, for instance, in promoting the the concept of open data in the health care field, including government health data, (captured in a 2010 Gov 2.0 presentation, available on YouTube from O’Reilly Media), has gained him a global following. A McKinsey Global Institute found that, as a New York Times report put it, “the value [of open data] to the health care system in the United States could be $300 billion a year, and that American retailers could increase their operating profit margins by 60 percent.”
Park is a hugely energetic force for positive change.”
The U.S. CTO’s office is situated within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The CTO’s office works closely with U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications Tom Power, according to Holdren. Power will perform the duties of OSTP’s Associate Director for Technology–a position previously held by Chopra in conjunction with his role as U.S. CTO-while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement.
In his role as U.S. CTO, Park will continue the work of Aneesh Chopra, who became the nation’s first federal chief technology office when the Obama Administration took office. Chopra stepped down last month, after three years serving as a the administration’s public champion for using technology to propel the U.S. economy. Chopra is expected to run for state office in Virginia in the near future.
But Park is expected to have the same policy levers as his predecessor at his disposal. In an interview in the Atlantic last month, Chopra explained his office has “four policy levers that reflect our open innovation philosophy. We’re opening up data for innovators and entrepreneurs. We’re taking on the role of impatient convener. We’re initiating prizes, challenges, and competitions. And we’re attracting top talent at the intersection of technology and policy.”
Park’s personal story is deeply compelling, notes O’Reilly Media correspondent Alex Howard. “He’s the son of a brilliant immigrant who came here from Korea, attained a graduate-level education, spent his career in a company in the United States and raised a family, including a son who then went on to live the American dream, founding two successful healthcare companies and retiring a wealthy man.”
News of Park’s move comes on the heels of a separate announcement coming out of HHS with the news being reported by Federal News Radio today that Frank Baitman is now serving as the is the new chief information officer at the department.
John Teeter, the HHS deputy CIO, confirmed Baitman started in mid-February, taking over the position previously held by Mike Carleton, who retired last July, according the the report. Teeter had been acting CIO since Carleton retired.