Defense Digital Service elevates top deputy to serve as director

The Defense Digital Service booth at the recent DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas

The Defense Digital Service booth at the recent DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas DOD photo

Jennifer Hay will lead the Defense Department’s in-house team of software engineers and data scientists.

The Defense Digital Service has named a new director to lead the group of software engineers, data scientists and others that serves as a rapid response tech team within the Department of Defense.

Jennifer Hay, principal deputy director at DDS,  will serve as DDS director within the Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Office, according to an announcement posted to social media on Monday.

Hay will replace former DDS Acting Director Jinyoung Englund, who has been appointed as CDAO's chief strategy officer for algorithmic warfare, the announcement said.

"[Hay] brings to DDS nearly 20 years of experience in the Department, including being on the ground floor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense when DDS was founded," Englund said in a farewell blog post. "I am confident her recent experience in the private sector ensures DDS will continue to lead with industry best practices while her experience in navigating the Department will ensure we impart lasting institutional change."

DDS has launched several initiatives that seek to mitigate vulnerabilities detected in DOD's public-facing digital services, including its bug bounty program called Hack the Pentagon, which solicits security experts that earn rewards for reporting bugs and vulnerabilities in the department's systems. The program is responsible for identifying over 2,100 vulnerabilities since it was launched in 2016, and has recruited a total of more than 1,400 security researchers and ethical hackers, otherwise called white hat hackers. 

Hay has served in multiple positions at the Defense Department and National Security Council and was the head of global government relations for the software firm DataRobot, according to her LinkedIn profile. She has held the top deputy post at DDS since January 2023.