The outgoing chief technology officer of the United States talks SOPA, open government, and MacGyvering an innovations policy for the country.
When the president needs advice on technology policy, he calls on Aneesh Chopra. As the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States, a post created by Barack Obama as the manifestation of a campaign promise, Chopra is charged with advising the president about where technology and innovation can spur job growth, boost industry, and improve quality of life for 21st century Americans when it comes to energy, education, health care, and more. After two and three-quarter years in the U.S. CTO seat, Chopra, 39, who holds joint titles as assistant to the president and associate director for technology in the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Executive Office of the President, is leaving the president's service Wednesday. Chopra cut his teeth in the consulting world, as managing director of the Washington, D.C., health care and education think tank the Advisory Board Company (founded by Atlantic Media Company Chairman David G. Bradley). He moved into government to do a stint as Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia, but there was still plenty he had to learn on the job once in the White House, he says, when it comes to how you go about pushing the country towards innovation from that perch.
What is the elevator pitch on what you've been doing since you were named Chief Technology Officer of the United States?
What I do is advance the president's innovation agenda by incorporating his bottom-up theory of change. To be very specific about it, I execute the president's innovation strategy in a manner that taps into the expertise of the American people to solve big problems.