White House appoints Denice Ross as US chief data scientist

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Public interest technology expert Denice Ross has been appointed as the next U.S. chief data officer.

She joins the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and takes up the role with immediate effect.

“The mission of the U.S. Chief Data Scientist is to responsibly unleash the power of data to benefit all Americans,” Ross wrote in a blog post about her hire. “I’m eager to get started and look forward to collaborating with data innovators already working inside of Federal government and at the State, Tribal, and local level.”

The federal chief data scientist has a wide-ranging remit, which includes providing a vision for maximizing social return on federal data, working with agencies to establish best practices for data management, and recruiting and retaining the best minds in data science for public service.

Ross joins government from the National Conference on Citizenship, where she was a senior fellow, prior to which she was a fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, according to her LinkedIn.

Previously, Ross worked in a data leadership role at the nonprofit New America and also spent a period in government working as a senior adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and as a Presidential Innovation Fellow.

The appointment comes as the White House continues a search for Federal Chief Statistician, a post that has so far remained vacant for almost two years.

Under the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, which was signed into law in 2018, federal agencies are required to appoint a chief data officer, along with other senior data leaders responsible for managing a department’s data assets, and ensuring that best data management practices are followed.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2015, DJ Patil was appointed as the first U.S. chief data scientist under President Obama, before departing at the start of the Trump administration. Trump did not bring on a chief data scientist during his term.

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chief data officer (CDO), Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House
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