What Kind of National Tech Leader Do We Need?


There's been plenty of chatter around the possibility of President-Elect Barack Obama naming a national technology chief. Plenty of big-time names have been bandied about, but no appointment has been announced yet.

CIO Insight editor Eric Lundquist offered his take on the story, saying that a national CTO (how most were referring to the new position) isn't the right move. Instead, the U.S. tech chief should emulate the qualities of a CIO, he argued.

Several readers weighed in, mostly with divergent points.

An anonymous reader says there's no need for a national CIO (or CTO):

"Unless we create a new Department of Information, I think the new administration can do without a senior technology person at the table. Instead, the administration needs to display strong leadership and clearly communicate what they wish to accomplish (business goals). Then leave it to the their teams to deliver using the best available tools and methods."

One reader, Erik Holland, suggested going a step beyond a national tech leader:

"I would propose a national Chief Knowledge Officer -- this would have impact on how we coordinate research, development, business and education as a nation (and for that matter, import/export of jobs and knowledge, including immigration). The CIO would be a key position in the CKO team."

Randy G. takes a more skeptical view:

"I think a national CIO would create another bureaucracy that would have to be managed and funded. If that entity didn't have a clear strategy and mandate from the heads of all the agencies that would potentially be subject to this new CIO/CTO, their effectiveness could be diluted to point where it would reflect negatively on the administration."

What do you think? What should Barack Obama do? What type of leader do we need, and what should be his/her chief responsibilities?


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