President Obama Names Chief Technology, Performance Officers
In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, President Obama named Virginia Technology Secretary Aneesh Chopra as the nation's first chief technology officer and Jeffrey Zients, a CEO and former management consultant, as chief performance officer, the Washington Post reports (Shear/Kumar, Washington Post, 4/19).
Obama said that Chopra, who according to the Post had been considered for technology chief at HHS, "will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities -- from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure." Chopra is a former managing director of the Advisory Board Company, a health care industry advisory and research firm in Washington, D.C. (Washington Post, 4/19). According to the Wall Street Journal's "Digits," "It is not entirely clear how Chopra's job will be different from" that of Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra. The White House job description says the CTO's responsibilities will "complement" the CIO's and will include developing "national strategies for using advanced technologies to transform our economy and our society," such as "reducing administrative costs and medical errors using health IT" (Schatz, "Digits," Wall Street Journal, 4/18).
Chopra has served as Virginia's technology secretary since 2006. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) said in a statement that Chopra's "leadership on the role of technology to transform our health care and educational systems directly aligns with President Obama's top priorities." Michael Matthews, CEO of MedVirginia, said Chopra "has really done a lot to inspire people in the field as well as help to create a vision of how we can improve quality and efficiency in health care through the use of information technology" (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/19). According to the Post's "Federal Eye," "Chopra faces a mind-boggling web of computer and data collection systems, few of which work in unison" (O'Keefe, "Federal Eye," Washington Post, 4/18).
Zients has served as CEO and chair of the Advisory Board Company and chair of the Corporate Executive Board and is the founder and managing partner at Portfolio Logic (Silva, Los Angeles Times, 4/18). Zients also will serve as the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. The Post's "Federal Eye" reports that if confirmed, Zients will work to identify wasteful and ineffective government programs and then "he will have to get beyond the affected agencies and departments, public interest and industry groups and Congress to actually eliminate the programs" ("Federal Eye," Washington Post, 4/18).
Note: The Advisory Board Company produces the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report.
In related news, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday is expected to approve Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' (D) nomination for HHS secretary, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 4/17). The vote will be held in addition to the panel's scheduled roundtable discussion on health care (Brady, Roll Call, 4/17).
On Friday, Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called it a "bombshell" that Sebelius initially did not fully disclose the campaign contributions made to her by a Kansas physician who performs late-term abortions (Norman, CQ Politics, 4/17). Antiabortion-rights advocates have criticized the contributions, but those concerns are not expected to affect her confirmation (CongressDaily, 4/17).
White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said the Obama administration is confident that she will be confirmed by the committee and by the full Senate. "Gov. Sebelius has enjoyed significant bipartisan support throughout the nomination process," Bedingfield said (CQ Politics, 4/17).