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White House Taps Top City CIO to Replace Beth Noveck as Deputy CTO for Innovation

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 28 2011

Chris Vein, widely known as the groundbreaking chief information officer for the city of San Francisco, has departed for the White House, you may have heard already from Luke Fretwell at Fedscoop.

His new title, according to his LinkedIn page, is deputy United States chief technology officer for government innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He replaces Beth Noveck, who left her post January to return to New York Law School to teach and to do research on the the impact of open government and participatory democracy efforts.

With Vein's help, San Francisco established the DataSF open-data portal and adopted the Open311 standard specification for non-emergency services. Vein joined the CIOs of six other major American cities in a self-styled "Group of 7" to commisserate and collaborate. He had served the city for 10 years and had previously worked in the White House under President George H.W. Bush, from 1987 to 1993.

In interviews around the web, Vein's colleagues hail him as a hands-on executive who has delivered innovative results with limited resources. For his part, in a 2010 interview with Facebook, Vein said that government use of technology is about "the introduction of self-service."

Here's what Vein told Facebook's Adam Conner:

Citizens don't have time to come down to city hall, they don't have time to sit and see processes that waste their time; they become very impatient and that's how government gets a bad name.

So it's really trying to figure out ways to make those services available any time, any place and make them cheaper to provide. And so when we do things like allow citizens to pay their parking tickets through a Facebook application, you are allowing citizens to be in more control of their interaction with the government rather than government in control of the interactions.

Vein has worked to make that vision a reality at the local level, Vein's colleague, New York State Senate Chief Information Officer Andrew Hoppin, told NextGov's Brian Kalish.

"He's actually been there in the trenches at a local level," Hoppin told NextGov.

Vein is stepping into a very hands-on role, according to what his predecessor, Noveck, told my colleague Nancy Scola in January.

"One thing in the White House is that we're so privileged to do this work, [but] don't have the time to stop and assess the work," Noveck said, by way of explaining why she would be conducting research from academia rather than from within the White House. "You're so busy 'doing' that you don't have the ability to communicate the details, not only what's going on in the White House, but across the agencies."

Vein is listed on OSTP's staff page, but the White House office has not released a statement about his hiring.