Everyone in the big data movement knows of DJ Patil. What you might not know about him is that he is one of many technologists who took government experience and service into the private sector to help contribute there. Yep, while everyone else, including Wired, is saying this is a story about a technology executive “defecting” to government (yes Wired used that word: see the Wired piece here), the reality is the story is one of yet another great government technologist taking lessons from his government service and smartly using them in the private sector. You see for DJ this is about going back to government, not dipping his toe in for the first time. DJ spent time in the DoD, in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, as a science and technology fellow. And my view is we should honor that service as much as we honor his time at eBay, LinkedIn and the VC world. DJ is a hero to many technologists for his great work. But he also deserves our thanks for his early service to the government.
Now he deserves thanks again for his return to service.
So, sorry if I take issue with Wired. This is not DJ “defecting.” This is DJ returning home.
Here is the announcement by Megan Smith on the Whitehouse blog:
The White House Names Dr. DJ Patil as the First U.S. Chief Data Scientist
Today, I am excited to welcome Dr. DJ Patil as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist here at the White House in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama has prioritized bringing top technical talent like DJ into the federal government to harness the power of technology and innovation to help government better serve the American people.
Across our great nation, we’ve begun to see an acceleration of the power of data to deliver value. From early open data work by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides data that enables weather forecasts to come directly to our mobile phones, to powering GPS systems that feed geospatial data to countless apps and services — government data has supported a transformation in the way we live today for the better.
DJ joins the White House following an incredible career as a data scientist — a term he helped coin — in the public and private sectors, and in academia. Most recently, DJ served as the Vice President of Product at RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce. DJ also previously held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal, and eBay. Prior to his work in the private sector, DJ worked at the Department of Defense, where he directed new efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the United States.
As a doctoral student and faculty member at the University of Maryland, DJ used open datasets published by NOAA to make major improvements in numerical weather forecasting. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, San Diego, and a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland College Park. DJ has also authored a number of influential articles and books explaining the important current and potential applications of data science.
As Chief Data Scientist, DJ will help shape policies and practices to help the U.S. remain a leader in technology and innovation, foster partnerships to help responsibly maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data, and help to recruit and retain the best minds in data science to join us in serving the public. DJ will also work on the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on utilizing advances in data and health care to provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.
As part of the CTO team, DJ will work closely with colleagues across government, including the Chief Information Officer and U.S. Digital Service. DJ’s work will also include data science leadership on the Administration’s momentum on open data and data science.
Over the past six years, the Obama administration has made historic progress in this area. In addition to making more than 138,000 data sets available to the public for innovation and entrepreneurship, the Administration is also empowering Americans with secure access to their personal data and expanding our capacity to process and examine large and complex datasets. Utilizing data for innovation holds amazing potential for the future of our country.
DJ’s work will help ensure government remains effective and innovative for the American public in our increasingly digital world. We welcome DJ to our team.
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