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A Seinfeld Degree

EBW of Wampum has been talking about the appointment of a Chief Technology Officer [CTO] for a while as he attended various Internet related conferences and noting a number of heavy hitters in the tech world interested in the job.

The Washington Post reports that the choice has been made and it is Aneesh P. Chopra, the Virginia Secretary of Technology.

EBW is not impressed with the choice.

This is probably the most annoying part from Dotgov Buzz

Having not quite reached middle age, Aneesh Chopra has already accomplished more than many of us in our careers. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University in public health, with a Masters degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he has been a venture capitalist, managing director of a large healthcare think tank, appointee of two governors to high-level committees, and the elected head of groups of entrepreneurs.

In 2006, despite his lack of formal IT training, he was appointed as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology at age 33. He was expected to “expand our internal use of technology to better serve our citizens” and “effectively promote Virginia’s business-friendly climate to technology companies,” Governor Tim Kaine said in announcing the appointment.

The guy has no actual qualifications in technology. He has a couple of generic public health/service degrees, and is “business-friendly”. How it hell does that qualify him to direct major IT improvements to the Federal government? The FBI still can’t manage to put together a working solution to their requirements after decades of trying, because they have no on-staff technical resources to write a decent RFP, they have to rely on contractors. Depending on contractors is how the government gets into these megabuck disasters.

This is a major demonstration of disrespect for the professionals in technical fields in this country. There are a lot of superbly qualified individuals who could have done something important in this position and it went to a guy who wanted to be a hospital administrator, and then became a venture capitalist.


1 Badtux { 04.21.09 at 11:19 am }

The dude had the right connections. Unfortunately, that’s how things work even here in private enterprise many times, like two employers back when my company hired a new VP of Engineering with impeccable references — he’d destroyed the engineering departments at multiple companies, leaving reeking garbage behind (the most famous of his destructions was Netscape Communications, he was the manager responsible for Netscape 4.x, the pile of reeking garbage that basically destroyed Netscape). But he’d gone to school with the right members of the Board of Directors and been VP of Engineering at the right companies to impress venture capitalists. Sigh.

I must admit being disappointed that the Obama administration turned to this kind of cronyism, but, alas, not particularly surprised. Sooner or later the art of practical politics requires handing out positions based on politics rather than merit. But couldn’t he have, like, given the guy the job of Ambassador to Tahiti or somethin’?!

– Badtux the Disappointed Penguin

2 Bryan { 04.21.09 at 12:15 pm }

I had high hopes that we were going to get someone who actually understood tech reality and would make some moves to put us on the path to towards equality with the rest of the world in areas like broadband access and infrastructure modification.

Another political appointment for a professional position. I had wondered if that was finally ended after the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco, but apparently not.

So, we still don’t have anyone who can write a RFP that will actually result in a successful product.

I remember back in the “big iron” days when “data processing” was always part of the finance department, and no one making buying decisions knew anything about IT. I always hoped that we would dump that model and move to something more realistic. They changed the titles, but not the hiring philosophies.