Trepidation Abounds About Obama’s CTO


We just put up a piece about Barack Obama’s still-missing Chief Technology Officer, and how transparency and technology activists are growing pessimistic about a position they once had very high hopes for. Here’s a taste:

While Obama has already given the CTO homework—he or she is tasked with writing recommendations for an Open Government Directive that will implement Obama’s transparency agenda—the position remains unfilled, long after many activists thought it ever would. (As it stands, Obama and his staff are struggling with the White House’s outdated technology.) Last weekend, attendees of the Sunlight Foundation’s Transparency Camp, a gathering of top members of the open government and technology communities, were genuinely befuddled. None in this tight-knit community could identify the frontrunners for the position, and few had explanations for the delay. Multiple in-the-know sources griped that the CTO will likely be a neutered position, lacking budgetary powers or a direct line to the president, and that the Obama team does not appear to have resolved basic questions, including where the CTO will reside on its organizational chart. (One report suggests the CTO is currently being slated for the president’s Domestic Policy Council.) The general attitude was pessimistic—no one believed that the CTO would be a high-level position capable of improving the use of technology across executive branch departments or of convincing hidebound bureaucracies to use technology to make their operations and decisions more accessible to the public.

Read the whole thing here.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.