Congress isn’t exactly known as a bastion of tech-savviness. So when looking for offices that have some expertise at their immediate disposal, here’s a hack: Follow the TechCongress fellows.
The four-year-old fellowship program, which brings tech experts to Capitol Hill for a yearlong placement, announced Tuesday that each of its eight 2019 fellows has found a project. The fellows, who come from previous lives in industry, defense and even the executive branch of government, are spread across both the House and Senate, in offices and connected to committees.
Here’s where they landed:
- Aaron Barruga, who previously served as a served as a Green Beret in Army Special Forces, is serving with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. He’ll work on technology and national security issues.
- Leisel Bogan is serving with Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., focusing on cybersecurity, technology, and national security.
- Allison Hutchings is serving with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. Her job description includes work on emerging issues in technology including AI, facial recognition and transportation resiliency.
- Eric Mill, formerly of the General Services Administration’s 18F team, is serving with the Senate Rules Committee and its ranking member, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., supporting their work on election security and technology policy.
- Maggi Molina is serving with Sen. Mike Rounds, R-SD, with a focus on technology innovation, defense and veterans issues.
- Emily Paul is working with Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., on criminal justice and technology issues.
- Frank Reyes is serving with the House Homeland Security Committee’s Democrats, working on national and homeland security technology in the areas of cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, disaster tech, border and port security, and innovation.
- Nate Wilkins, a former Navy SEAL, is serving with the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans and focusing on technology and cybersecurity.
The 2019 cohort is TechCongress’ biggest to date. The fellowship launched in 2016 with its inaugural class of just two fellows, but since then the lack of tech expertise in Congress has become a significantly more popular talking point. “The Zuckerberg hearings were a game changer,” TechCongress founder Travis Moore told FedScoop last summer, referring to the Facebook CEO’s April 2018 appearance before senators. “We shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste.”
This interest in tech expertise has translated to demand for fellows — each of the 2019 fellows had offers to join eight different offices on average, TechCongress says.
And one office is back for a second helping — in 2017, Schatz hosted fellow Sunmin Kim. Schatz is part of the new Senate Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus, and in March he and Sen, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., introduced a bill that would direct companies to get affirmative consent when facial recognition is being used, by commercial entities, in a public space.