Obama Science Shop Gets Tech Boss

Jeff tries to explain how government works to readers of Science.

Buried in the news of President Barack Obama's recent appointment of Aneesh Chopra as chief technology officer in the White House is the fact that Chopra will also serve as technology honcho for the Office of Science and Technology Policy. "He'll be double-hatted, just as I am," John Holdren tells ScienceInsider, referring to his dual roles as presidential science adviser and science office director. In both cases, one of their hats—the science office position—requires Senate confirmation.

Chopra, 36, has been secretary of technology for the state of Virginia since 2006. A former venture capitalist, he's been called a "rock star" and a "strong choice"  by technology aficionadas.

Holdren plans to have four associate directors in science, environment, technology, and national security/international affairs. To date, only one has been named: Shere Abbott, who went before a Senate panel earlier this week. Holdren told ScienceInsider a few weeks ago that he hoped nominees for other positions would be announced within the next month.

In his 18 April radio address, Obama described Chopra's job as "promoting technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities, from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure." Obama said Chopra would work closely with the Administration's Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra. By describing Kundra as "responsible for setting technology policy across the government," the president also implied that OSTP would play a complementary role in decisions by his administration involving support for various technologies.

Posted in Policy, Technology