Trump to nominate Michael Kratsios to U.S. CTO role

Michael Kratsios speaks Aug. 21, 2018, at FedTalks in Washington, D.C. (FedScoop)

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President Trump announced Thursday that he intends to nominate Michael Kratsios to serve as U.S. chief technology officer.

Kratsios joined the White House two years ago in March 2017 and has served as the deputy U.S. CTO at the Office of Science and Technology Policy ever since. For much of those two years, however, he’s been the office’s defacto leader. OSTP was without a director until the Senate confirmed Kelvin Droegemeier to the role in January. The role of CTO has also been empty — until now.

Kratsios has seemed to relish his position as OSTP’s go-to spokesperson — convening tech industry officials at the White House to discuss emerging technologies, presiding over the administration’s ever-increasing conversations around artificial intelligence and speaking at lots and lots of events. He’s spoken again and again about the importance of maintaining the American technology research and development ecosystem and taking a hands-off regulatory approach in order to encourage innovation.

“Erecting barriers to innovation does not stop the future; it makes the future move overseas,” he said during the White House’s AI Summit in May 2018. “Under the Trump Administration, we are removing barriers to innovation wherever and whenever we can.”

Occasionally, his remarks have taken a turn for the pointed. During his keynote at FedTalks 2018, in front of an industry crowd, he alluded to some of the tensions that have bubbled up between tech companies and government, especially when it comes to the Department of Defense.

“As of late, some in the tech community have publicly called into question whether their values and interests still align with the values and interests of our country and fellow citizens,” he said at the time. He then told companies to get in line — “if America does not maintain a technological dominance, other countries will take our place.”

Kratsios seems well-liked by his peers in government and industry. Many chimed in in favor of his nomination, including Aneesh Chopra, current president of CareJourney, who served as the first U.S. CTO from 2009 to 2012.

“I applaud President Trump’s selection of Michael Kratsios to serve as the next U.S. CTO,” Chopra said in a statement. “He has demonstrated sound judgment on prioritizing policies that will enhance American competitiveness in the jobs and industries of the future, and for working collaboratively across the public and private sectors to spark breakthroughs.”

Prior to joining the administration, Kratsios was chief of staff to venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Kratsios will be the fourth U.S. CTO since the position was created by President Obama in 2009.

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Donald Trump, Kelvin K. Droegemeier, Michael Kratsios, Office of Science and Technology Policy, US CTO, White House
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