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 and Wired titled "The US Federal Government Needs a VP of Engineering, not a CTO."

From the Wired article:

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

To the nongeeks of the world, these two titles might seem meaningless or perhaps even interchangeable. The roles and responsibilities associated with each are often comingled, especially in startups. But in more mature tech companies, they indicate different priorities. In their ideal incarnation, a CTO is a visionary, a thought leader, a big-picture thinker. The right CTO sees how tech can fit seamlessly into a complex organization and sits in the C-suite to integrate it 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 prompt organizations to innovate separately inside an “Office of the CTO” rather than doing the hard work of integrating their technology and systems into the larger organization. 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 on Linkedin here!

Read the article on Wired here!