Google exec named to White House post

Google executive Megan Smith will become the new U.S. chief technology officer, the White House said on Thursday.

The move adds a Silicon Valley insider with decades of experience in the industry to President Obama’s inner circle of advisers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Smith currently serves as vice president of the Google X research lab, which has been tasked with developing projects like the drone-based Project Wing and Project Loon, which seeks to use a network of balloons to deliver the Internet to people in rural and remote areas.

In addition to Smith, the White House is also naming former Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray — who was credited with being a strong supporter of the company’s focus on free speech — as the new deputy CTO.

“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment,” Obama said in a statement. “I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people.”

Smith will replace Todd Park, who recently took another job with the administration to recruit top coders and developers from Silicon Valley.

In the new role, Smith will “accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies,” senior White House advisor John Holdren wrote in a blog post. 

She will be just the third person to ever fill the post, which was conceived by President Obama when he took office.

During his time in office, Park was responsible for helping to turn around HealthCare.gov, the ObamaCare website that suffered a disastrous rollout last year. He also launched a program to bring tech-focused fellows into the administration and launched the U.S. Digital Service, a strike team meant to replicate the success of repairing HealthCare.gov in other parts of the government. 

The Digital Service is led by another Google alumnus, Mikey Dickerson, and is still in the early stages of getting set up and recruiting staffers. 

This story was updated at 11:54 a.m.