Report: Tech chief behind Healthcare.gov leaves White House
A woman reading the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington [AFP]

By Mark Felsenthal and Edwin Chan


WASHINGTON D.C./SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S. chief technology officer at the time of the troubled rollout of Healthcare.gov is stepping down and moving into a new role recruiting top Silicon Valley talent to government, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Todd Park, a successful tech entrepreneur who became a top adviser to President Barack Obama, will move to the West Coast at the end of the month as part of a White House team, the source said on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public.

The move signals a growing effort by the government to try to recruit from Silicon Valley. Earlier this month, the White House lured Google engineer Mikey Dickerson to a role bolstering the government's computer systems.

The National Security Agency has also been urging technology workers to consider public-service careers.

In his new role, Park will help channel ideas from the tech community, as well as keep the government updated on how technology is evolving, the source added.

It is unclear who will replace Park. The White House has held discussions with former executives at Google, LinkedIn and Twitter about a potential replacement, according to Fortune, which first reported his move on Friday.

Park joined the Department of Health and Human Services in 2009. In 2013, he was called to testify before Congress on the glitch-ridden Healthcare.gov rollout. He subsequently played a major role in the repair of the site, designed to be the main portal for millions of uninsured Americans to buy coverage through federal exchanges, which in turn was an important part of Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Park, the son of Korean immigrants, co-founded Castlight, a company that provides tailored data about healthcare costs, and athenahealth.

He was not immediately available to comment on Friday.

The move and new role allow Park to return to California at the end of the month in time for the start of school for his children, the source said.

While technology companies and Washington have long enjoyed a back-and-forth relationship, moves from Washington into highly paid technology jobs rather than the reverse have often attracted more attention.

Regina Dugan, head of the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, formerly headed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, was once chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Technology companies have taken a growing interest in the workings of Washington lately, in part because the revelations of former contractor Edward Snowden about government spying have affected their businesses.

In turn, the government has been trying to learn from start-up culture.

Earlier this year, it opened 18F, a digital-services agency based inside the government's General Services Administration. It uses open-source code and other technologies that most of the government has been slow to adopt.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Edwin Chan; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

[Image via Agence France-Presse]