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White House Technology Plans Holding Steady

BY Sarah Granger | Wednesday, February 4 2009

Yesterday was challenging for the new Obama administration as two key individuals nominated for appointments removed their names from consideration. I was at the White House asking questions about the plans for the CTO and White House technology. Witnessing the heated afternoon press briefing, there was definitely some pressure being put on the administration to respond about whether they were perhaps moving too quickly on these cabinet and senior appointments.

I asked Nick Shapiro, White House spokesman on technology related topics, whether what we've been hearing about a possibly diminished role of the CTO was true. Essentially the answer is no. He told me very clearly that nothing has changed in the plans of the administration since the development of the technology agenda. "Change.gov is still up," Shapiro noted, directing skeptics to read about the proposed plan for a CTO there.

As to the timing of an announcement or any names, there was nothing mentioned, but given the current situation in the White House after the letdown of Daschle for HHS Secretary, one can assume that they may slow down the appointments process for a while to make doubly sure all of their i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Nobody seems to know how long it will be before the first USA CTO is named - it could be days, weeks or months yet.

Meanwhile, I asked about the troubles with getting setup on the White House computers and the press staff seemed to think that was a non-story. They're using Gateway PCs in those offices and although it took a couple of days to get e-mail up, everyone's online now. They have had at least one, possibly two server outages since taking office, which is a bit disconcerting, but with such major staffing changes, perhaps it's to be expected. Still, one would think they would have a more robust backup system. Time will tell. Regardless, their plans to modernize the administration in terms of technology leadership still remain intact.