Aneesh Chopra might have been embarrassed by a medical-records breach in Virginia, but his nomination to White House Chief Technology Officer has been better secured. He can thank the senator on whom he lavished donations.
Chopra serves as Virginia's Secretary of Technology, giving him oversight of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. That agency, which oversees state government IT, was forced to scramble to figure out what happened earlier this month after hackers held ransom 8 million records in a patient database operated by the state's Department of Health Professions. The agency promised better security going forward.
As we've noted, the incident was something of a political blemish. Chopra didn't operate the servers, but he was in charge of the people who were supposed to; the IT agency's top-listed priority is "Governance of the Commonwealth's information security programs" — the very programs that failed during the security breach.
So it was worth asking if Chopra was the best Chief Technology Officer for the U.S., as under the Obama Administration's plans.
But that issue didn't come up in Chopra's testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee today. He got just one question, on using technology to improve health care, the Wall Street Journal reports, leaving Government Technology to conclude his confirmation "could come as soon as this week."
He was helped along by the committee member who "introduce[d] him," fellow Virginian Mark Warner. Warner gave Chopra a "glowing" recommendation, the Journal said. Highlights:
"Last year Government Technology magazine named him one of the 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers, and as someone who has spent a great deal of time with Aneesh — keeping up with all of his ideas — he's a bit of a whirlwind, and I know that he'll bring that same energy to this new position," Warner said.
Such praise! Of course, it's probably worth noting that Chopra has donated close to $2,500 to Warner over the past year and a half.
It's no scandal that America's first geek-in-chief knows how to navigate the political landscape. But it's at least worth noting, as no one in the press seems to have done today, the full scope of his relationship with his political shepherd. And we suspect some Virginias are thankful Chopra's job is to "promote technological innovation" rather than oversee American's information security.