Federal CTO Wants to Speed Up Government, Health Care Procurement IT

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-08-05 Print this article Print

title=Immigration Services Already Being Updated}

For example, Chopra said, the president asked him and Kundra on June 25 to help make U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services become a lot more consumer-friendly-with demonstrated progress in 90 days.

"I don't know how many of you have had to go through this process, but 'customer-friendly' may not be at the top of your list to describe how this agency operates," Chopra said, eliciting laughs from the audience.

"The people who are there are absolutely committed to customer service, but there have always been other issues. The president put us on the spot. So we worked closely together and came up with a vastly improved Website that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get their updates basically like Burger King's 'Have it your way': You can get it by text message [or] e-mail and can get it by visiting us online. We've opened up the kimono to say, 'This is how many steps there are to get a green card or whatever it is you're getting.' People can see where they are in the queue."

Chopra said this project will be operating for no extra cost within the 90-day period set by Obama.

"The point is, we're doing this within our capacity and our resources. We're reallocating, we're going after things that are higher priority and this will be live-or I will have a lot to answer to from my boss-by Sept. 22," Chopra said.

This is what Chopra would like to see take place throughout the federal government as an example of how it can emulate enterprise and consumer IT.

Chopra highlighted the example of David Green, an entrepreneur from Baltimore, who was frustrated that the market cost for hearing aids was too high, thus making hearing aids inaccessible for many of the 240 million people around the world who suffer from hearing loss.

Green re-engineered hearing aids and produced a prototype within three years that could cost as little as $60 in the field, Chopra said.

"In public policy, we engaged on this issue by helping subsidize the cost, and we will debate who will pay for the hearing aids. It's a world outrage that this is not happening," Chopra said. "Let's use the body power of government to bring the price down to x minus 10 percent because of [better] procurement. Why should it cost that much in the first place?"

If cyber-security is improved, innovation may follow

Also regarding health care, Chopra said if Silicon Valley and the IT industry can "get the cyber-security framework right, it could fuel the next wave of growth on the Internet infrastructure."

He said, "If [we] get the security and privacy aspects right [in health care] and instill the kind of confidence in the American people that, in fact, it will be secure and used in the right way, I think it will fuel a wide-ranging set of product innovations that at least should inspire the consumer market."

Chopra said the health care industry needs fundamental payment reform.

"Our [insurance] incentives today are not designed to reward front-end wellness activity," Chopra said. "Health reform is the key; if [we] get health reform through, it will allow us to create a market incentive to promote that kind of wellness and care that hopefully, coupled with security and privacy for protection and consumer confidence, will spur a new wave of innovation [in IT]."

Chopra cited the increasing use by doctors of Web services such as Epocrates, a free mobile drug reference that can be accessed by BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm and Windows devices.

"This is great health care IT," Chopra said. "It is a tool that allows doctors to make better judgments about medications on-site, and it's an accessible format. It's a game-changing innovation."

You can view a video of Chopra's speech on the Churchill Club YouTube channel site.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel