White House to Say Farewell to Social Media-Savvy CTO

It’s the end of the first term for the Obama administration, and the end of an era for the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Aneesh Chopra, the White House’s first-ever chief technology officer, has announced his resignation.

Chopra told the Washington Post in an email: “After an incredible three years as the nation’s first chief technology officer, I am returning to my home state of Virginia to continue my work using innovative new technologies and platforms to improve healthcare, education and energy – and to grow the jobs and industries of the future. I want to thank the President for entrusting me with the task of fostering an innovation culture in government, and for his direction, engagement, and leadership on applying technology for the betterment of all Americans.”

Chopra joined the White House in April 2009, beating out the likes of Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who withdrew his name from the running early on in the process.

“As the federal government’s first Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra did groundbreaking work to bring our government into the 21st century,” said President Obama in a statement. “Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernizing government records. His legacy of leadership and innovation will benefit Americans for years to come, and I thank him for his outstanding service.”

During Chopra’s tenure, the White House became a hipper, more socially networked place where citizens could voice their concerns in virtual Town Hall chats on Twitter and Facebook. Even the photos on the White House website look like they were filtered through Instagram.  Tonight, President Obama will address the nation’s questions live in a Google+ hangout.

Chopra also joined the social networks in the SOPA and PIPA debates by contributing a blog post in opposition to the anti-piracy bills.

Prior to his current position, Chopra served as Virginia’s secretary of technology from January 2006 until April 2009. There, he used iTunes to create a program that posts free study guides and materials for students; and the Ning platform to create a local network for rural Virginia doctors.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart once referred to Chopra as “The Indian George Clooney.” After he leaves the White House, it is rumored that the federal CTO will return to his home state to run for lieutenant governor.

 

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