The White House's second-ever Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, is stepping down from his position as an advisor to President Barack Obama by the end of the year, according to Fortune. The position itself is a relatively new one — Park stepped up from his job at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after Aneesh Chopra resigned in 2012 just two-and-a-half years after becoming the country's first CTO. Before joining the government, Park co-founded two healthcare IT startups, Athenahealth and Castlight.
Fortune's sources say that the decision was driven by his family's desire to move back to the West Coast. In a 2012 interview with Fast Company, Park, who had just taken the title of CTO, said that he'd already been in D.C. "much longer than my wife thought we'd be here." He added, "She gave me one final hall pass for this position, but she said, 'You can choose to stay for longer than that, but I will divorce you.'"
CTO is meant to 'promote technological innovation'
President Obama designed the position in 2009 with the goal of bringing some of the innovation and ingenuity so prevalent in Silicon Valley to the Beltway. The CTO was supposed to "help modernize a Federal government relying too heavily on 20th century technology." Obama has said before that the position is meant to "promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities — from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure." Park has described himself as both a "entrepreneur-in-residence" and "an internal change-agent" who works to instill a start-up mentality inside small government teams. Among other tasks, he helped oversee the repair of Healthcare.gov following its disastrous launch.
It's not all bad news for the White House, however. According to both Fortune and VentureBeat, Park will continue working for the administration from Silicon Valley, where he will help recruit some of the nation's top tech minds for the government. If that's the case, he already has a proven track record. He helped bring former Twitter legal director Nicole Wong to Washington, as well as Google engineer Michael Dickerson, who helped fix Healthcare.gov. Additionally, he brought Code for America's Jennifer Pahlka to D.C. to help make the government more tech-savvy. It's currently unclear who the White House will tap to be Park's successor.