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RNC picks Facebook engineer for first CTO

The social network's Andrew Barkett has been hired to help the GOP bridge the digital divide and campaign more effectively.

Andrew Barkett, left, pictured at a political event supporting Corrin Rankin for Redwood City City Council. Corrin Rankin for City Council/Facebook

The Republican National Committee has hired Facebook engineering manager Andrew Barkett to serve as its first-ever chief technology officer.

The newly created role is meant to provide the party with much-needed expertise in the digital realm and help it develop relationships in the tech sector.

"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," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Barkett, 32, joined Facebook in January 2011 and managed engineering teams responsible for scaling the social network's mobile infrastructure, messaging, and News Feed products. Prior to Facebook, Barkett served as the senior director of engineering for Livescribe.

"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," Barkett said in a statement.

In its Growth and Opportunity Project report, the GOP identified the need for a chief technology and digital officer, a position meant to send "a strong and immediate signal that we are serious about growing our digital and tech operations and data integration." The party concluded that "digital can simply no longer be an afterthought in our campaigns," and cited a digital divide between the GOP and the Democrats during the 2012 presidential campaign.

[via The Huffington Post]