U.S. CTO shuffle: Todd Park staying as advisor; Google exec in the running

Just as news breaks about Google X's drone program targeted toward Amazon, the secret lab's chief could be headed to Washington.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

As the current United States chief technology officer prepares for a cross-country trip back to California, a current Silicon Valley bigwig could be headed in the opposite direction.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President, Todd Park, will soon be leaving his present role in government for sunnier (and maybe greener) pastures, but that doesn't mean he's out for good.

The White House announced on Thursday that President Obama has asked Park to remain on as a technology sector advisor, a suitable and apropos role given his experience and imminent relocation to Northern California.

Starting in September, Park will be consulted about how next-generation technologies should be applied to various initiatives and strategies as well as for tapping top tech talent for government jobs.

"From launching the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, to opening up troves of government data to the public, to helping spearhead the successful turnaround of HealthCare.gov, Todd has been, and will continue to be, a key member of my Administration," said the President, in prepared remarks.

Earlier on Thursday at an appearance in San Francisco hosted by data storage provider Nexenta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also credited Silicon Valley technologists for remedying the Healthcare.gov fiasco in fall 2013.

But as Park and his family move west, rumors about his replacement are starting to reach a fever pitch.

One of the top longtime executives at Google, Megan Smith, is said to be at the top of the list, according to Bloomberg.

Smith is vice president and chief of the Google X department, a rather secretive lab where the Mountain View, Calif.-headquarted corporation develops its moonshot projects. Some of the now-public results include Google Glass and the self-driving car.

As reports of Smith's CTO candidacy surfaced, The Atlantic published newly-revealed plans about another major project in development at Google X: Project Wing, a drone delivery program that could soon go head-to-head (so to speak) against Amazon's similar plans introduced in November.

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