Aneesh Chopra, Obama's Indian American IT head, quits

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Washington, Jan 28 (IANS) Aneesh Chopra, President Barack Obama's information technology honcho, who was the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration, is leaving the White House, apparently to try his hand at politics.

Announcing the departure of Chopra, Assistant to the President and the federal government's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Obama said "Chopra did groundbreaking work to bring our government into the 21st century.

"Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernizing government records."

"His legacy of leadership and innovation will benefit Americans for years to come, and I thank him for his outstanding service."

While the official announcement gave no reason for Chopra's resignation from White House, the Washington Post citing unnamed Democrats said he is widely expected to announce that he will run for lieutenant governor in Virginia.

Chopra has flirted with running for statewide office in Virginia for years, building up support among Democratic activists and serving on Obama's transition team in 2008, it said.

The timing of his resignation allows Chopra to campaign this year for his two former bosses: former governor Tim Kaine, who is running to replace retiring Senator James Webb this year; and Obama, who will face a tough fight in the swing state of Virginia.

He is expected to attend Virginia Democrats' biggest fundraiser of the year, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, Feb 11 in Richmond, where those who are looking to run statewide host parties and mingle with more than 1,500 activists, the Post said.

The eldest son of Indian immigrants, Chopra, 40, was sworn in into his White House job on May 22, 2009 after serving as Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia from January 2006 to April 2009.

He previously served as Managing Director with the Advisory Board Company, a publicly-traded healthcare think tank.

Chopra was named to Government Technology magazine's Top 25 in their Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers issue in 2008.

Aneesh Chopra received his BA from The Johns Hopkins University and his MPP from Harvard's Kennedy School.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)