recommended reading

White House Promotes Tech Meetups

Andrea Izzotti/

The White House's tech policy leaders are making a bet that just getting tech-minded citizens in a room together could boost employment and entrepreneurship in the U.S. And they might even be willing to pony up the space to hold the gatherings in the future. 

During the first-ever White House tech meetup, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith said her staff was looking into how more federal buildings could be used to host tech meetups and hackathons.

She asked attendees, many of whom organize their own tech meetups, to describe their needs for event space, and assured them "we'll continue to work from the other side." 

Designed to introduce tech enthusiasts from across the country to each other, the White House meetup follows President Barack Obama's announcement last month of the TechHire initiative -- an economic campaign to train more Americans for tech jobs. The initiative includes a new $100 million grant competition, operated by the Labor Department, for new approaches to training and employing low-skilled individuals for tech jobs. 

When approaching tech-related positions, "what we often hear is, 'Oh, well, that job is out of reach. That's not something I can do; it's too hard,'" Ryan Burke, a policy adviser with the White House's National Economic Council, said during the event.

Informal meetups could help nontechnical people find a community they can turn to for advice and can "hear about what it means to be a software developer, a systems administrator, so they feel like this could be a job for me," he said.

The White House's first meetup included Scott Heiferman, co-founder and chief executive of, a website on which millions of Internet users search for and find groups related to their interests -- sports, music and technology, among hundreds of others.

In his remarks, Heiferman noted that informal tech meetups have helped attendees network to find jobs, funding, startup co-founders or training -- “regardless of what school they might have gone to, if they have the right pedigree or if they look the part."

Such meetups are also an opportunity to get technologists interested in working for, or with, the government, Smith added. 

In the summer, the White House plans to host its first-ever demo-day for selected entrepreneurs; last week, it hosted a working session, during which data scientists, technologists and law enforcement leaders discussed how data could be used to improve policing, Smith said. 

"We need more tech [intelligence] in government at leadership tables," Smith said. There are already some federal programs dedicated to integrating technology into government operations, such as the U.S. Digital Services and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, she said, but she is also looking for tech experts and data scientists to think about shorter-term engagements with the federal government.

"Some people can come full time and want to do that, but [we are] also thinking about it like the reserves," Smith said. "We've had people come for two weeks."

(Image via Andrea Izzotti/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.