A guest post by Chris Cummings, CEO of SpanishDict.com, the world’s largest Spanish learning website, and is in the Alliance for Business Leadership.

As we prepare to take the Alliance agenda of public and private innovation to Washington for the 5th Annual CEO Summit on Capitol Hill, I was thrilled to learn that kicking off the event will be none other than Todd Park, the nation’s Chief Technology Officer and an outspoken champion of public-private partnerships. Hands-down one of the most innovative public servants around, Park is known as much for his “pull-no-punches” style as for his many successes in both public and private spheres. I can think of no other member of President Obama’s staff better-suited to address our group of business leaders, and I encourage you to consider joining me for this important event.  

A Public-Private Success Story

Chief Technology Officer Todd Park promotes the Innovation Fellows program at TechCrunch Conference in NYC, May 23, 2012

For those not familiar with Park’s backstory: After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard, Todd Park (then just 24) co-founded Athenahealth, a technology company devoted to driving down the cost of health care by making it more efficient, consumer-driven, and performance-oriented. Among their many innovations, Athenahealth introduced electronic medical records and streamlined billing practices for physician offices around the country. In 2007, just ten years after its launch, the company went public on the Nasdaq, where it is now valued at more than $2.7 billion dollars. 

In 2009, Park was appointed by President Obama as the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where, over the past 3 years, he has ushered in a new era of transparency for government health data. A key Park initiative was to create HealthData.gov (built in just 90 days), which allows consumers to search for public and private insurance policies. He continued to release more data from HHS on the web, issuing a rallying cry to app developers to build software using this data to help consumers. As CTO of HHS, Park seamlessly moved from discussions about data structures, to negotiating federal bureaucracy, to inspiring the next generation of software to help improve healthcare. His success did not go unnoticed and, in March of 2012, he was appointed Chief Technology Officer of the US.

Transparency, Innovation, and Leadership

We are lucky to have someone like Park in the role. His record embodies the principles of strong leadership needed to take on the challenges of today.  He promotes transparency. He brings deep expertise to complicated problems. He embraces innovation. He connects private enterprise to public-minded goals. He marshals these skills with pragmatism to get things done. And he fuels his work with an infectious charisma that inspires others to do the same. 

We are in a period of unprecedented transition, as technology creates seismic changes in industries throughout the economy. We bank online. We shop online. Our books, movies, and TV–they are all moving online. But our public institutions have yet to modernize in the same way. Technology can dramatically improve the efficiency and efficacy of government. But it won’t happen on its own. The government is largely insulated from the market forces that drive industries to deliver goods faster, better, and cheaper. The engine of change in the government–the fuel for new ideas to come to life and the urgency to make it happen now–will be strong leadership. That is why I am thrilled to see a person like Todd Park take the helm as America’s next CTO, and to have him speak to the Alliance this June. His leadership may be just the catalyst we need to harness the power of technology to improve our government.

— Join Chris Cummings, Todd Park, and others committed to innovation at the CEO Summit on Capitol Hill, June 12-13 —