In something of a surprise move, the White House has appointed a senior Google exec as the next Chief Technology Officer of the United States.
The fact that the exec in question, Megan Smith, is also a gay woman seems also to be of significance for at least some parts of the US press.
The Obama administration simultaneously announced that Smith’s new deputy would be Alexander Macgillivray, a former Twitter lawyer rated in The Washington Post as “a staunch defender of the free flow of information online.”
Smith is expected to revitalise the role of America’s CTO – a job thought up by Obama while running for his first Presidency in 2008, but which has been seen as inconsistent and scope and whose last holder wasn’t even a full-time appointee.
In contrast, US commentators expect the former engineer to be much more hands-on in shaping US tech policy in a role that could end up as paralleling the President’s Science Advisor.
That individual, John Holdren, today blogged that he expects his new colleague to “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."
In terms of CV, Smith has the cred to make that happen: she has been leading Google's team responsible for developing new business, including shephering the acquisitions that would evolved into the search giant’s Google Earth and Google Maps services. Her current position at the company is as Vice President at Google[x], the firm’s somewhat mysterious R&D lab.
Commenting on the appointment, President Obama said, “Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment.
"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.”