White House Chief Data Scientist Seeks Input

patilEmbracing the use of data to improve government function and its interaction with people, the Obama Administration established the position of Chief Data Scientist (CDS) in February.  DJ Patil joined the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in February as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist.

Patil is credited with helping to coin the term “data scientist.” The former Vice President of Product at RelateIQ, Patil has also held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal, and eBay.  Prior to his stint in the private sector, he worked at the Department of Defense, where he directed efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the U.S.

As Chief Data Scientist, Patil has focused on four activities:

  1. Providing a vison on how to provide maximum social return on federal data.
  2. Creating nationwide data policies that enable shared services and forward-leaning practices to advance the U.S.’ leadership in the data age.
  3. Working with federal agencies to establish best practices for data management and ensure long-term sustainability for databases.
  4. Recruiting and retaining the best minds in data science for public service to address these data science objectives and act as conduits among government, academia, and industry.

Patil’s priority areas include precision medicine, usable data projects, and responsible science.

In August, Patil issued a follow-up memorandum discussing his team’s progress regarding these priorities and goals.  Noting that “data science is a team sport,” Patil urges community input on these initiatives.

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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