U.S. Chief Technology Officer
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Megan Smith, the first woman to hold the position of U.S. CTO, has a huge responsibility to shoulder – namely, making sure the Obama administration and the federal government stay in step with the country’s digital evolution.
Since being named to the position in September, the former top Google exec has powered the White House with a welcome shot of Silicon Valley sensibility. The 50-year-old visionary who led the company’s acquisitions of Google Earth and Google Maps was behind the rollout of TechHire, which aims to get qualified applicants into the IT workforce to expand the country’s growing techie talent pool.
Smith also hopes to bring tech-savvy workers into the government, even if it isn’t for long. In helping craft the new U.S. Digital Services, Smith made sure people could come in and serve the amount of time they choose. She wants talented people to get involved, whether they choose to stay for three weeks or their entire career.
It’s a honor to have been asked to do this.
“In general, I think it’s a really important thing to do, it’s a honor to have been asked to do this,” Smith told FedScoop when asked about her public service “It’s an honor to be here and to try to make great things every day with different people.”
Smith, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alum, took over for Todd Park when she was appointed along with Deputy U.S. CTO Alexander Macgillivray. She is not only continuing to expand upon and update the administration’s IT policy and initiatives, she is also helping to attract more women and minorities to technology careers and positions in government.
Women, she said at an event last month, “face so much unconscious bias, we have to become conscious of what we are doing. You can explain away any individual person [for leaving computer science], but when you look at it in the aggregate, it’s just astonishing to see how bad it is.”
One of Smith’s main challenges has been balancing innovation with bureaucracy. She may carry a BlackBerry, but “it’s the beginning,” she has said of digital government.
“I was lucky to work at the beginning of the Internet and have the same kind of feeling and insight,” she told FedScoop. “The work that we are seeing from other countries, what we are seeing on a local level from Code For America, really getting digital customer, user-centric, high-quality websites, mobile sites and services from government, it’s all coming.”
– Corinne Lestch and Greg Otto