President-elect Barack Obama has long said he wants to create the position of chief technology officer in his cabinet, a person who will make government more accessible to citizens. The first step in that plan, reportedly coming later today, is the launch of a web site about the new administration’s transition into the White House. Not yet live, it’s called Change.gov.
Meanwhile, the Obama has named Julius Genachowski — a former executive at Internet company IAC executive and former Federal Communications Commission counsel — as part of his transition team. Could Genachowski, a long-time friend and adviser of Obama’s, be the new CTO? Someone else from the tech industry is also on the team: Sonal Shah of Google.org.
Genachowski is certainly a front-runner for some sort of tech-related job in the administration. There have been various reports that he’s in the running for FCC chairmanship. Yet he also chaired the group that came up with the CTO plan, and the rest of Obama’s tech policies.
Last fall, Obama’s campaign told VentureBeat some more details about what the CTO position entails:
The CTO’s mandate would be quite different from the Cybersecurity czar appointed under the Bush Administration. Bush’s czar helped defend against cyberattacks. Obama’s CTO, by contrast, would ensure government officials hold open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan.
Specifically — and this will be very interesting if it actually happens — Obama wants the public to be able to comment on the White House website for five days before he signs legislation. (I wonder if the Obama campaign will use Facebook Connect so you can leave comments on pending legislation and let your Facebook friends see them? After all, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes helped lead Obama’s web campaign.)
Genachowski is a managing director at Rock Creek Ventures, a special adviser at General Atlantic, a board member of The Motley Fool, Website Pros, Beliefnet, and Marc Ecko Enterprises, and is part of the founding group that launched New Resource Bank — according to startup incubator LaunchBox Digital, which he also helped found.
Indeed, the electoral importance of interactive online tools that helped people learn about the government was obvious yesterday. Twitter trumpeted its election-day traffic gains, as have social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
From a Facebook company post:
- More than 5.4 million of you shared that you voted with your friends on Facebook
- More than 15 million of you of voting age in the U.S. logged into Facebook on Election day
- More than 1.5 million of you mentioned Obama, McCain, Palin, Biden or Election on your Facebook wall
- More than 2.4 million of you joined the Facebook Election Day event to spread the word and encourage your friends and loved ones to vote
- More than 1.7 million of you donated your status and joined the election rally through the Causes application
- You gave over 2 million Election-related gifts
- MySpace had 300 million more page views on election night then last Tuesday and over 2 million visits to our MySpace election coverage that was hosted on www.myspace.com/decision08
- Obama is the first president on MySpace
- Over 300,000 new voters registered via MySpace
- Almost 850,000 friends just on the national Obama MySpace page
- Obama also has almost 60 other official profiles (1 for each state and numerous for each constituency)
- He participated in our MySpace/MTV Presidential Dialogue in Iowa in Oct. 2007 and his polling numbers went up soon after in Iowa (a critical state in the primary selection period)
[Genachowski photo via LaunchBox.]