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White House Hires First Chief Data Scientist

DJ Patil, whose resume includes jobs at LinkedIn, eBay and PayPal, will help lead the government’s Big Data efforts in his new role.

The White House on Wednesday welcomed its first chief data scientist to help lead the administration’s open-data efforts and recruit talented data experts into government.

DJ Patil’s official title is deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist within the Office of Science and Technology Policy, federal CTO Megan Smith announced in a blog post.

Patil joins a growing team of new recruits that the Obama administration is bringing in to improve management and delivery of its $84 billion IT portfolio and improve citizen services. President Obama named former VMware executive Tony Scott the federal CIO earlier this month. Smith is a former Google executive, and Mikey Dickerson, a former Google engineer, now serves as administrator of the U.S. Digital Service within the Office of Management and Budget. Dickerson’s team includes the third engineer hired at Amazon and the former operations director at Twitter.

Patil will work closely with Dickerson and Scott to help shape policies that ensure the federal government maximizes its return on open-data investments. As chief data scientist, Patil will also work on the administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative. The goal is to use “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,” noted Smith in her announcement.

Patil’s previous roles include vice president of product at RelateIQ, now owned by Salesforce, and positions at LinkedIn, Skype, PayPal, and eBay. As a former government employee at the Defense Department, Patil “directed new efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the United States,” Smith said.

Speaking at the Strata + Hadoop World conference in San Jose, Calif., last week, Patil said recruiting top talent into government and creating nationwide data policies that enable shared services are among his top priorities. He called out several agencies, including the Commerce, Treasury and Energy departments for being more data-driven than most companies. See his full session below:

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Feb 19 2015

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