Technology

White House job ‘no brainer’ for tech exec

Becoming the U.S.’s new chief technology officer was a “no brainer” for Megan Smith, she said. 

In her first interview since joining the Obama administration last month, the former Google executive said on Tuesday that she was briefly skeptical of the offer, but soon changed her mind.

{mosads}“At first I thought: ‘Move to D.C.? What?’” she said at a Fortune summit in California. “But as soon as I thought about it, I’m very service oriented” and love to use technology to help people and the globe, she added.

The job, she said, is an “incredible honor and a great opportunity.”

“You’ll be surprised by how entrepreneurial people are in government,” Smith said she quickly learned. “You think of government bureaucracy, but really this White House team, this president, they really want to get something done.”

Smith took over as the nation’s top tech official last month, moving from Google’s X research and development lab.

Her predecessor, Todd Park, was responsible for helping to fix HealthCare.gov after its disastrous rollout late last year.

The administration’s experience with the failings of that website are a “good example of why you’re starting to see more technical people coming into the government in this way,” Smith said.

Mikey Dickerson — another Google alumnus — was brought in to help spearhead the fix for the website and he is now in charge of the U.S. Digital Service, a type of digital strike team that aims to streamline other ways the government interacts with people online.

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