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Hiring a Chief Data Scientist, White House Points to Big Data Progress

DJ Patil, formerly of Salesforce subsidiary RelateIQ and LinkedIn.

DJ Patil, formerly of Salesforce subsidiary RelateIQ and LinkedIn. // Flickr user JD Lasica

The Obama administration has lured another top digital technologist away from Silicon Valley and to the White House, this time to help the government harness big data.

DJ Patil, formerly of Salesforce subsidiary RelateIQ and LinkedIn, has joined the White House to serve as its “chief data scientist in residence,” John Podesta, counselor to President Barack Obama, told reporters during a press call Thursday about the administration’s recent efforts on big data.

“One of the things that he's going to be doing is looking at the way big data science can improve services across the board, starting particularly in the health care world,” Podesta said.

Patil will work alongside federal Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, a former Google executive who’s been in the top tech job since August. 

Pointing to those two appointments, Podesta said, "we're creating a stable of people who are really the best in the business to try to help guide those efforts."

The hiring announcement came as the administration debuted a progress report on efforts to seize big data opportunities in government while still preserving citizens’ privacy.

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