There have been a lot of stories about how the federal government is resistant to new technology, from President Barack Obama’s jumping through hoops jus to use his BlackBerry to the fact that Twitter is blocked on White House computers. Speaking to a tech-heavy audience tonight in Mountain View, Calif., Obama’s Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said the administration’s tech limitations drive him crazy, too.
“For crying out loud, I can’t access hardly anything [on the White House computers],” he said.
As an example, Chopra recalled trying to access his account on personal finance site Mint.com, but discovered the White House web browser was “so old” that it wouldn’t work. (They’re probably using an outdated version of Internet Explorer.) This isn’t just a question of whether administration officials can access their favorite websites, either. After all, the government is a big customer for some tech companies, yet it is notoriously resistant to new ideas — as one audience member put it, Washington, D.C. is where “technology goes to die.”
Chopra said he’s definitely working to change that. In particular, he reminded audience members that he’s working with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and other administration officials on what he referred to as a government “cloud computing platform,” where the federal administration can adopt new web technologies without raising the normal security concerns. It’s too early to offer any details about that platform, he said, especially about which tools will be included and which will be left out, but Chopra said there will be “a lot more in than out.”