RNC taps Facebook manager/ex-Googler to head tech operation

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The RNC announced its pick for its first chief technology officer late Tuesday evening, choosing a manager with experience at Facebook and Google.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced that Andy Barkett would be joining the RNC from Facebook to fill the position.

“I am confident that with Andy’s experience and our continued efforts to build meaningful relationships with experts in Silicon Valley, we’ll see the changes to this part of our operation that we all agree are both important and necessary to winning elections in the future,” said Preibus in a statement.

Barkett managed six production teams of engineers at Facebook “responsible for thousands of servers and scaling systems in mobile infrastructure, messaging, advertisements, newsfeeds, platforms, and payments.”

Barkett also boasts credentials as a former senior director of engineering at Livescribe, senior management consultant for Nvidia and as a technical program manager for Google.

“It’s essential that the Republican Party has the resources to drive voter turnout as we look toward the elections of 2014, 2016 and beyond,” said Barkett said in a statement.

“Silicon Valley welcomes the party’s efforts to be more creative and innovative, and I look forward to helping the party accomplish these goals,” he said.

Barkett is also an angel investor for multiple startups.

Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and a Silicon Valley conservative, offered energetic and enthusiastic praise of Barkett.

McNealy served as an advisor to the RNC’s search for a chief technology officer, and has worked closely with Barkett.

“Andy Barkett is a not just a strong advocate of fiscal conservatism and the ability of private enterprise to lift everyone in our nation, but he is the real deal as a technologist too,” said McNealy in a statement.

“His deep background with several Silicon Valley stalwarts meshes nicely with his exceptional database and app pedigrees,” said McNealy.

The RNC had named appointment  of a tech officer as one of its priorities in the so-called RNC “autopsy report.”

A Politico report on May 2 named three finalists who were allegedly under serious consideration for the job: Katie Harbath of Facebook, Rob Saliterman of Google and Mindy Finn of Twitter.

But the vetting process was more extensive than Politico reported, according to a Republican source with knowledge of the vetting process.

As the Republican Party looks to improve its technological capabilities, technologists on the right have stressed the importance of building up a sophisticated and more permanent technology infrastructure.

Republican operatives and technologists expressed their frustration over the alleged finalists, concerned that none of the people named in the Politico piece possessed the technical qualifications necessary to fill the role.

The 2012 presidential campaign exposed the party to criticism that consultants benefiting from television ad buys were making technology decisions, while technologists with expertise in the digital space were not given a seat at the table.

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