As the General Services Administration stands up its new technology acquisition arm, it's looking to Silicon Valley to help spur its innovation.

The agency tapped former Pixar executive and Oscar-winner Rob Cook as the commissioner of the new Technology Transformation Service on Oct. 27.

Cook, an emeritus vice president of advanced technology at the animation studio, was the co-architect and primary author of Pixar's RenderMan software, a visual effects program that creates photo-realistic computer images.

Cook's software became so widely used in films that he was given the Academy Award of Merit in 2001. Nineteen of the past 20 Oscar winners in visual effects used the RenderMan software.

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

Roth debuted the TTS back in the spring as a new business line to house the agency’s innovation arms: The Presidential Innovation Fellows and 18F. GSA's aim is to utilize the service as a one-stop-shop for digital products and services in government.


My vision for the Technology Transformation Service is to be the space that we are actually providing a demonstration in government of how emerging technology or changes in innovation actually applies in the government space

," Roth told Federal Times at a GSA Technology Industry Day in September.


So that's everything from the implementation, the exploration of what's coming on deck for technology that can be applied in government and then understanding how we can actually make it be adaptive use. But I want for the Technology Transformation Service to serve as that space for government so that we know from a government-wide footprint that we are making that exploration and then we understand the adoption opportunity."

Enter Cook, who has more than 35 years in software development, starting at Pixar when it was a division of Lucasfilm, eventually becoming vice president of software development.

"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."

The debut of TTS has come with the promotion and messaging of a movie premiere, as Roth and GSA have rolled out the red carpet to generate excitement in both the government in vendor communities.

At the September Technology Industry Day, Roth expressed GSA’s desire to streamline acquisition, especially when it comes to technology.

"I think with the onset of ever-emerging technologies, with the onset of the American public using technology in a different way to manage their lives, that we are going to actually find new solutions for bringing government assistance, governmental programs that people relied on to those individuals in ways they actually work and live day-to-day," Roth said.

"Right now, often the interface with government looks very different than anything else in their lives. I think we can change that. We have the expertise to change that industry-wide, government-wide; we have the technology to change that and we, at GSA, want to be an integral part of making that change."

Cook will take the helm of TTS on Oct. 31.

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