Todd Park is the White House’s new chief technology officer
Park: My job is to “unleash the power of data, tech, and innovation” to help people
Park wants entrepreneurs to tap into fields of data sitting in federal government vaults
On Obama: “Probably the highest compliment I can pay him is that his geek quotient is very high”
(CNN) — With his frequent use of Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, Barack Obama has often been called the most tech-savvy of U.S. presidents.
So it makes sense that he was also the first president in 2009 to appoint a federal technology officer, a high-level adviser who helps guide government initiatives on tech, entrepreneurship and innovation.
That appointee, Aneesh Chopra, stepped down in January. Now his successor, Todd Park, is continuing the effort. A Harvard graduate, health-tech entrepreneur and former chief tech officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Park took office in March and has only recently begun speaking publicly on his goals for his new job.
We spoke to Park recently about Obama’s high-tech agenda, the power of big data and how technology can help drive job growth. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
CNN: Tell me a little bit about your position as you understand it.
Park: My job is to be tech entrepreneur-in-residence at the White House. My role is to be an internal change agent that works with the best innovators inside and outside of government to conceive of, and then execute, at high speed, a portfolio of initiatives that unleash the power of data, tech and innovation to improve the well-being of the American people. And about 20% of my time is functioning a senior advisor on [these] issues.
What kinds of things does the president ask your advice on?
The president’s team asks me to get involved in everything from, say, helping to move the health insurance exchange programs along to assisting on, say, initiatives to help streamline the student loan process. It actually tends to be issues that relate to how technology and data can be applied to advance the ball on key national priorities, like education, energy, health care, public safety, job creation.
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