"We don't necessarily need someone who has been a CEO," said Yale Braunstein a professor at U.C. Berkeley's School of Information. "My preference is for someone who has already done a role like this and understands the interplay between technology and policy."
Whereas most of the names thrown around by the media have been celebrities, Braunstein told
that knowledge of government IT, policy, and even the startup world, will be much more valuable to Obama's administration.
"We need someone who has a real feel for figuring out where technology is going, but also having some policy experience," he said. "In some areas, this person has to be the leader, but in other areas, like health IT, it has to be someone who can co-operate with someone else taking the lead."
This sentiment is echoed by the
Computer and Communications Industry Association
, which issued its tech policy recommendations for the Obama administration Wednesday.
While the as-yet-to-be-defined CTO position needs a White House base, a host of organizations, including the Office of Management & Budget, the National Science Foundation, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology all lead in different areas, it said. "[The] NIST is best suited to coordinate because of its competence in standards, its working relationship with the private sector, and its research and programs on innovation-enabling technology."
Despite the media feeding frenzy surrounding the CTO, there is a good chance that a relative unknown will win the role. Washington, D.C., technology chief Vivek Kundra, for example, has been touted for the position, as has
executive Julius Genachowski, who serves on Obama's transition team.