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Politics

Google Executive Named As America’s Next Chief Technology Officer

by Carlos E. Castañeda
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Megan Smith of Google speaks during the Digital Life Design women conference (DLDwomen) at Bavarian National Museum on June 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany.

Megan Smith of Google speaks during the Digital Life Design women conference (DLDwomen) at Bavarian National Museum on June 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS SF) — A Google executive who leads the company’s top secret research division has been tapped to become the next U.S. chief technology officer, responsible for the country’s technology policy and initiatives.

The White House announced Thursday that Megan Smith, vice president of the Google X research lab, would assume the role of America’s CTO replacing Todd Park. Park announced last week he was stepping down to take on a new role as White House emissary to recruit tech talent into government jobs.

The announcement confirmed a number of rumors that Smith was being considered for the job. Smith will also gain a new deputy CTO, Twitter’s former general counsel Alexander Macgillivray and another Google alum.

“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment,” President Obama said in a statement. “I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.”

In a White House blog post, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John P. Holdren said:

“As U.S. CTO, Smith will guide the Administration’s information-technology policy and initiatives, continuing the work of her predecessors to accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies across every sector of the economy and aspect of human well-being.”

The position of America’s CTO comes with the challenge of wading through the bureaucracy among departments and pushing the adoption of the latest hardware, software and best practices.

“The U.S. government for the most part, other than the Defense Department or NASA, is driving a 1980s Pontiac,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Media, told Re/code. “It hasn’t been upgraded even to a 1992 Camry.”

Smith, who is married to Re/code Co-Executive Editor Kara Swisher, previously served as CEO of LGBT-targeted media firm PlanetOut. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.

 

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