Federal Tech Innovation Service to be Led by Former Pixar Executive


A former Pixar executive who won the first ever Oscar for software is taking over a U.S. government agency responsible for improving federal digital technology.

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Rob Cook, whose credits include “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” will become commissioner of the Technology Transformation Service on Oct. 31. He will have top secret security clearance.

Cook is credited with advancements in software-driven animation. He said in a statement that the U.S. needs first-rate technology expertise, effective relationships with industry and partnerships throughout government. He declined, through a spokesman, to speak to The Associated Press. Cook’s appointment was for three years. He has been a Democratic donor to the campaigns of President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Technology Transformation Service is part of the U.S. General Services Administration. It was created in April to “transform the way government builds, buys and shares technology.” It includes “18F,” a Silicon Valley-style startup for government digital projects that was the subject of a highly critical review by the agency’s inspector general over its financial losses of $32 million and lack of viable financial planning, among other issues.

Cook will also oversee investments, acquisitions and the presidential innovation fellows program, among other offices.

Cook joined Pixar in 1981 when it was part of Lucasfilm and was the primary author of Pixar’s RenderMan software, which creates photo-realistic computer images for animation, effects and design. It has been used in 19 of the last 20 films to win Oscars for visual effects. Cook later started a digital imaging company and headed a software company he sold to Microsoft, before returning to Pixar as vice president of software development. Since 2012, he has been a business consultant to prominent Silicon Valley companies.

“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,” Tony Scott, the U.S. chief information officer, said in a statement.

Cook won an Oscar in 2001 for software and in 2009 an award for a lifetime of contributions to computer graphics from a computer professionals group.

Cook’s job pays between $123,175 and $185,100.

SOURCE: The Associated Press, Tami Abdollah

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