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Pixar exec to lead US government tech transformation group

Neil Merrett Published 31 October 2016

Rob Cook eyes effective industry relations and communication with government partners among key focuses for transforming public sector products and online functions

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The US Technology Transformation Service (TTS), formed this year through the General Services Administration (GSA), has turned to a former executive of Disney-owned animation studio Pixar to oversee key digital developments for the US government, unveiling Rob Cook as commissioner.

TTS combines the work of a number of government digital groups such as the GSA, 18F and the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), as well as the Presidential Innovation Fellows programme in order to overhaul how new technology and systems are developed, bought and shared.

In the commissioner role, which he takes up from today, Cook will be charged with improving technology that is used across the US federal government and providing products and services that are effective and secure.

Aside from high-profile and headline friendly attachments to popular films such as ‘Toy Story’, Cook has a background in engineering, where has was both the primary author and co-architect for Pixar’s multiple award winning RenderMan software.

Announcing his appointment, Cook expressed excitement for the opportunity to overhaul how individuals interact with government and outlined how he would hope to proceed.

“We need three things to succeed: first-rate technology expertise, effective relations with industry and great partners throughout government. Close collaboration with our agency colleagues is crucial to making this possibility a reality," he said.

US chief information officer Tony Scott welcomed the experience that Cook would bring to how digital transformation is managed.

“Rob's renowned experience, both as a software developer and in cultivating innovative teams throughout his career, are incredible additions to our long-term goal of enhancing the way government uses technology to deliver world-class services for citizens," he said.

Cook’s biography notes that he had received numerous awards from academia and industry, including winning the first academy award to be given for software.

Along with helping found digital imaging company Light Source in 1989 and serving as chief executive for Numinous, Cook has held two stints at Pixar, the latter serving as vice president of its software development.   He has most recently worked as a business consultant in Silicon Valley, while also having served on boards for both corporate and on-profit organisations.

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