Chopra was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the eldest son of Indian immigrants Ram and Neelam Chopra. Chopra received his undergraduate degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. After receiving his M.P.P., Chopra worked for The Advisory Board Company where he was a Managing Director.
In 2006, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine appointed Chopra as the commonwealth’s Secretary of Technology. His service continued until his appointment as U.S. Chief Technology Officer in 2009. Chopra spearheaded a number of innovations in state government, including the creation of a Productivity Innovation Fund which provided resources for state agencies to pursue IT projects to improve efficiency. In 2008 Chopra implemented a statewide performance management strategy, that Governing magazine described as “venture governmentalism.” Later that year, the Pew Charitable Trust and Governing Magazine announced Virginia was tied as the “best managed state” in the country.
Chopra's appointment as the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States was announced by the White House on April 18, 2009. From the official release: “[a]s Chief Technology Officer, Chopra will promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.” Chopra was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 7, 2009. The office of Chief Technology Officer was organized within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The C.T.O. also serves as a cabinet-rank member of the National Economic Council and the Domestic Policy Council.
In 2011, the White House announced the updated Strategy for American Innovation which was aimed at innovating a number of areas of the federal government. As part of President Obama’s goal to “win the future,” Chopra implemented a number of new programs focused on education, research, and infrastructure.
Startup America, launched in 2011, is a White House program aimed at spurring innovation through entrepreneurship. Chopra helped drive the Startup America effort worked to improve access to startup capital, reduce barriers to entry, connect entrepreneurs with mentors, and create new market opportunities in health care, clean energy, and education. Along with the White House initiatives, the Startup America Partnership was created as an independent alliance of private sector leaders.
In 2012, Chopra announced the release of the Open Innovator’s Toolkit, a collection of 20 leading practices that 'open innovators' should consider when approaching policy proposals at all levels of government. As noted in the memorandum to the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, the goal was “rather than pursue traditional “top-down” models to spur breakthroughs ... President Obama emphasizes a “bottom-up” philosophy that taps into the expertise of the American people.”
Launched by Chopra and the White House in 2010, the “Blue Button” program gave military veterans a tool to download their individual health records from the Veterans’ Administration. This tool made it easy for veterans to obtain their medical records and coordinate care with healthcare providers. As of 2015, similar programs were unveiled by the Department of Defense and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In the first five years of the Blue Button, nearly 3 million veterans, military personnel, and Medicare beneficiaries had obtained their medical records online.
Likewise, the Green Button program was launched in 2012 and provided Americans with easy and secure access to their electricity usage data and was built on the success of the Blue Button program. The program provides energy consumption data in a standardized format that can easily be displayed on the web or via other applications.
In July 2012, The Washington Post reported that Chopra would run for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The primary election was held on June 11, 2013 and Chopra was defeated by State Senator Ralph Northam by a margin of 54-46%.
Chopra co-founded Hunch Analytics with partners Sanju Bansal and Dan Ross. Hunch Analytics currently contains two portfolio companies: NavHealth, a healthcare data analytics firm, and Equate Analytics, a performance marketing firm. Hunch Analytics is currently operating in Arlington, Virginia.
In 2014, Chopra was named to the inaugural class of Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellows at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He led a program that addressed the role of data as public infrastructure and the challenges and opportunities involved with expanding open access to data.
Later in 2014, Chopra was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve on the Council on Virginia’s Future. From the Council’s description: “The Council works to help guide Virginia in improving outcomes for citizens. Membership is prescribed by law and includes top leadership from the executive and legislative branches of state government, as well as business and community leaders from across the Commonwealth.
Chopra was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.