Advice for the future federal CTO

Norman Lorentz, who was the first chief technology officer at the Office of Management and Budget, said the next official to fill that position will have to have the ear of the president and be familiar with agency missions in order to be effective.

Lorentz, who left OMB in 2003, was interviewed on the C-Span public affairs show “The Communicators” by host Pedro Echevarria and Government Computer News senior writer William Jackson. Lorentz, now vice president of the Council for Excellence in Government, discussed the future governmentwide CTO expected to be appointed by incoming President-elect Barack Obama and the qualifications that person will need to succeed.

The new CTO should have at least a minimal level of technological competence, Lorentz said. But the primary job will be using technology to transform government business process, and an understanding how agencies work and what they are trying to accomplish will be more important than technical expertise, he added.

Lorentz said the new CTO should focus on a handful of critical initiatives where a difference can be made, such as the economy, health care and homeland security.

Asked if he is interested in returning to government as the federal CTO, Lorentz said that, like any other public servant, “If I were asked, I would serve in a heartbeat.”

“The Communicators” airs on the C-Span network on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. EST and is repeated on the C-Span2 network on Dec. 22 at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. It also is available here.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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