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America gets a CIO - but still no CTO

The Obama administration has named its choice for the new post to control federal IT - but it's staying quiet on the question of a chief technology officer

Despite the remarkable use of technology during the Obama campaign, the White House has been dragging its heels in a number of important appointments to hi-tech posts.

Well, at least one step forward was made today when the White House officially named Vivek Kundra, the CTO of Washington, DC, to the job of America's chief information officer.

What does that mean? A lot of it is about making the federal government's use of technology smarter and more effective, according to the White House press release:

The Federal Chief Information Officer directs the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending. The Federal CIO establishes and oversees enterprise architecture to ensure system interoperability and information sharing and ensure information security and privacy across the federal government. The CIO will also work closely with the Chief Technology Officer to advance the President's technology agenda.

Tim O'Reilly, the publisher, calls Kundra a "rock star" and pointed out that he's a fan of government transparency and believes that the government can release data that can create new industries. Sounds like he'd appreciate the goal of the Guardian's Free Our Data campaign.

But there's still a big empty gap in there: there is still no chief technology officer.

I've written before about this job - which was an important part of Obama's campaign rhetoric (at least as far as helping woo Silicon Valley and the technology industry). And I've asked a number of leading people what they think about it, including Vint Cerf.

The job hasn't disappeared - note the says the CIO will work closely with the CTO (implying that there will be a CTO in the end). But right now, fully four months since winning the election, the new administration has still not named somebody to that job. Will they ever get there?

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