Government Hopes Oscar-Winning Pixar Exec Can Fix Troubled Digital Agency


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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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The federal government is hiring a Hollywood executive to take over a troubled new digital technology division within the government.

Rob Cook, formerly a Pixar, Inc. executive who created software used to make iconic movies like “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.,” will start his job as commissioner for Technological Transformation Services Oct. 31, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced Thursday.

“I’m excited by the possibility of transforming the way the government interacts with people,” Cook said in a statement. “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.”

Part of Cook’s role will be overseeing 18F, a Silicon Valley startup-style government agency that is supposed to show other federal agencies the best way to build websites and digital products. The agency is unable to live up to its financial goals due to inaccurate financial planning and questionable projects, according to a new audit report from the GSA Office Inspector General (OIG) released Monday. (RELATED: Obama’s Tech ‘Startup’ Has Some Major Financial Problems)

“Rob is someone who has considerable experience both in delivering great technology and in building great organizations,” Denise Roth, GSA’s administrator said. “I can’t think of a better or more qualified individual to take our emerging technology efforts at GSA to the next level.”

The previous commissioner of Technological Transformation Services, Phaedra Chou, stepped down from the position in June, a few weeks after a Government Accountability report revealed that 18F was losing around $1 million a month. (RELATED: Obama’s Tech ‘Startup’ LOSES $1 Million Every Month)

Cook won an Oscar from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 for his work as primary developer on Pixar’s RenderMan software, which allows animators to create such realistic and detailed digital images.

Cook’s new job will pay between $123,175 and $185,100, Fox Business reports.

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