Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios tapped as acting Pentagon tech chief

White House Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios speaks at a lectern during a technology industry conference.

U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios. Photo: Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

United States Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will serve as acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, the Department of Defense announced today.

The big picture: In his acting role, Kratsios, a Silicon Valley alum who was formerly chief of staff for investor Peter Thiel, will take on new responsibilities at the DOD while keeping his gig at the White House, where he has overseen efforts on quantum computing, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

The move was first reported by Reuters.

Between the lines: Kratsios has been a key tech point person in a White House that has had an erratic relationship with Silicon Valley. The tech industry has notched wins on taxes, deregulation and, at times, favorable treatment in trade conflicts. But it's also faced threats from the Trump administration on issues including antitrust, alleged conservative bias and content liability.

  • The Pentagon and tech have had their issues in the Trump era, with lucrative defense contracts going to some major tech firms as others vacillate on performing such work over policy objections.

What they're saying: "In seeking to fill this position we wanted someone with experience in identifying and developing new technologies and working closely with a wide range of industry partners," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. "We think Michael is the right person for this job and we are excited to have him on the team."

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