Obama IT czar Aneesh leaving White House

Washington:Aneesh Chopra, President Barack Obama`s first IT czar and the highest ranking Indian-American in the White House, is stepping down after three years of groundbreaking work aimed at advancing the government`s technology agenda, amid reports that he may enter politics.

"Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernising government records," Obama said in a statement.

Chopra, 39, who played a key role in bringing governance closer to the people through the latest developments in information technology, said he is returning to his home State of Virginia. He would formally leave the White House on February 8.

"After an incredible three years as the nation`s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO), I am returning to my home state of Virginia to continue my work using innovative new technologies and platforms to improve healthcare, education and energy — and to grow the jobs and industries of the future," Chopra told PTI.

"I want to thank the President for entrusting me with the task of fostering an innovation culture in government, and for his direction, engagement and leadership on applying technology for the betterment of all Americans," he said.

Chopra`s comments came as The Washington Post reported that he is widely expected to run for lieutenant governor in Virginia. Highly praising Chopra`s work, Obama said his legacy of leadership and innovation will benefit Americans for years to come. "I thank him for his outstanding service," he said.

In his capacity as the CTO, Chopra worked to advance Obama`s technology agenda by fostering new ideas and encouraging government-wide coordination to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.

Chopra was sworn in as the nation`s first Chief Technology Officer on May 22, 2009.

When the President announced his "Strategy for American Innovation" in September 2009, Obama had said: "That`s why I`ve appointed the first-ever chief technology officer, charged with looking at ways technology can spur innovations that help government do a better and more efficient job."

John P Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, yesterday said that Chopra has led that charge in an energetic, innovative and amazingly effective manner, and sowed the seeds necessary to bring our government into the 21st century. "Working with Aneesh for nearly three years has been an invigorating experience," he said.

"Among a dizzying array of accomplishments, Aneesh helped design the President`s National Wireless Initiative, including the development of a nationwide public safety broadband network, establish a set of Internet Policy Principles including the call for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and led the implementation of the President`s open government strategy focused on unlocking the innovative potential of the federal government to solve problems and seed the jobs and industries of the future," Holdren said.

Prior to his appointment, Chopra served as Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia from January 2006 until April 2009. He previously served as Managing Director with the Advisory Board Company, a publicly-traded healthcare think tank.

Chopra, who was named to Government Technology magazine`s Top 25 in their Doers, Dreamers and Drivers issue in 2008, received his BA from The Johns Hopkins University and his MPP from Harvard`s Kennedy School.

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), praised Chopra for his contribution as the IT czar and said that he created an important and impressive legacy as the country`s first CTO.

"He moved the nation forward in the use of technology, encouraged and made progress in inter-agency coordination and helped spread a culture of transformation through technology and innovation," Shapiro said. "He was passionate, exuberant, knowledgeable and a great representative of excellence in government," he added.