News/Research

danah boyd on Why the US Govt Needs a VP of Engineering Not a CTO

16 Dec, 2020

danah boyd on Why the US Govt Needs a VP of Engineering Not a CTO

BCNM alum danah boyd recently wrote and published an article on Linkedin titled "The US Federal Government Needs a VP of Engineering, not a CTO."

From the article:

My advice to the transition team is this: You need a VP of Engineering even more than you need a CTO.

To the non-geeks of the world, these two titles might be meaningless or perhaps even interchangeable. The roles and responsibilities associated with each are often co-mingled, especially in start-ups. But in more mature tech companies, they signal distinct qualifications and responsibilities. Moreover, they signal different ideas for what is top priority. In their ideal incarnation, a CTO is a visionary, a thought leader, a big picture thinker. The right CTO sees how tech can fit into the big picture of a complex organization, sits in the C-suite to integrate tech into the strategy. A tech-forward White House would want such a person precisely to help envision a technocratic government structure that could do great things. Yet, a CTO is nothing more than a figurehead if the organizational infrastructure is dysfunctional. This can prompts organizations to want to build new tech separately inside an “office of the CTO” rather than doing the hard work of fixing the core organizational infrastructure to ensure that larger visions can work. When it comes to government, we’ve learned the hard way how easily a tech-forward effort located exclusively inside the White House can be swept away.

Read the rest of boyd's article here!