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CTO: Hottest Job in Town

Kim Hart

Sure, President-elect Barack Obama has a long list of jobs he needs to fill in the next couple of months. But the one the technology community is fixating on these days is the brand new Chief Technology Officer position Obama has promised to create.

His inner circle of advisers are tight-lipped about the what the new role would involve and who might be tapped to fill it. And in Washington, that leaves a lot of room for gossip. Speculation about who might get the job has become something of a parlor game in this town. Blogs on both coasts have thrown out a number of names, like Stanford law professor Larry Lessig and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. Julius Genachowski, Obama's law school classmate and a key member of his transition team, has also been mentioned. The name game could go on for a while.

It's interesting that a government job is getting so much attention from the fast-moving high-tech world. While it's still unclear what the job description will entail, many people in the industry expect a CTO would focus on streamlining government technology operations. That could shake things up in the government contracting community, which builds and maintains the bulk of the government's networks and IT systems.

Gary Arlen of Arlen Communications said, "Everyone's got a stake in this--From Boeing and Lockheed to Microsoft and Oracle."

Some observers see new innovations in government technology as being key to reducing government spending and making processes more efficient. Rob Enderle of Enderle Group, who's been listening to the Silicon Valley buzz about the new job, said the economy is the biggest hurdle for the next administration. "Initially," he said, "everything's going to be focused like a laser on the economy and asking, 'What can this function do to reduce the cost structure of the United States?'"

What do you think the top priorities of the CTO should be?

By Kim Hart  |  November 14, 2008; 9:50 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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