Barack Obama is poised to appoint technology guru Julius Genachowski to head the
Federal Communications Commission
, according to a report in
The Wall Street Journal
, although there is
no sign of the President-elect's
Genachowski, who was one of the hot favorites to become Obama's cabinet-level
, is Obama's choice to head the FCC, said the report, which cited an unnamed source within the Democratic Party.
The co-founder of technology investment firm
and former chief counsel to ex-FCC chairman Reed Hundt is a long-standing friend of Obama and is one of the people credited with molding the the former Illinois senator's high-tech election campaign.
A spokesman for Obama's transition team refused to confirm whether Genachowski will become FCC chairman. "We don't comment on appointments before we have announced them," he told
Despite his technology credentials, there has recently been speculation that Genachowski was holding out for the powerful FCC chairmanship.
If nominated, Genachowski will be responsible for rejuvenating the FCC, which was recently
in a report by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The report, which cited poor communication across the Commission, and was extremely critical of current FCC chairman Kevin Martin's management style, painted a less-that impressive picture of the telecom regulator.
Genachowski, who is a Harvard Law School buddy of Obama's, has an impressive resume encompassing technology, finance, politics and the law. Prior to founding LaunchBox Digital, the IT guru was the chief of business operations at Internet company
and is also a special adviser to
Earlier in his career Genachowski worked as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices David Souter and William J. Brennan, and was also on the staff of the Congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair.
If Genachowski is appointed FCC chairman, then Obama will need to look elsewhere for his CTO, a cabinet-level position responsible for overhauling government IT and breathing new life into the U.S. tech sector.
The tech-savvy President-elect has
a big technology agenda
, including a $10 billion project for electronic health records, modernizing public safety networks and making America the world leader in broadband penetration and Internet access.
It has been rumored that the CTO could be unveiled as soon as tomorrow, although Obama's transition team has given no indication that an announcement is imminent.
The media has nonetheless touted a number of big technology names for the CTO's role, including
CEO Jeff Bezos, Internet guru Vint Cerf, and even
supremo Steve Ballmer.
chief (and vocal Obama supporter) Eric Schmidt has also been cited as a possible Washington CTO, although the executive has since publicly stated his desire to stay with the Internet giant.
More likely, however, is that Obama will appoint a CTO from within his transition team, which includes executives from some of America's top technology companies. Sonal Shah, head of global development initiatives at
, for example, is on the transition team's advisory board, along with Donald Gips, group vice president at Internet specialist
Level 3 Communications
Another possibility is Washington D.C technology chief Vivek Kundra.
Whoever assumes the as-yet-to-be-defined CTO's role, however, will find himself or herself facing arguably the toughest job in technology.
The ObamaCTO.org Web site, which is aims to help the Obama administration set its technology priorities, has been conducting an online survey in an attempt to guide the eventual appointee.
Ensuring that the Internet is widely accessible and network neutral is cited as the top priority by almost 13,000 respondents, followed by privacy and repealing the Patriot Act, and repealing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Security will inevitably be high priority for the CTO, according to Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist at networking giant
, who has been consulting with the Obama camp on technology issues.
Whether it's interacting with the government agencies online or voting in a presidential election via computer, Roemer warns that the government fames a major obstacle in terms of convincing the public that online interactions are free of security threats.
"We need to establish a model for working with the government online that goes beyond just handing out an ID and a password," he told
. "There needs to be layers of security that instill confidence."