Commerce Department's New Chief Data Officer No Stranger to Data

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Ian Kalin, a former presidential innovation fellow, steps into the role as Commerce's first chief data officer.

Eight months after Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced her department was looking to hire a chief data officer, a former presidential innovation fellow has stepped into the role.

On Friday, during the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Pritzker announced the hiring of Ian Kalin as the Commerce Department’s inaugural CDO.

The same day, Kalin, a Navy lieutenant, confirmed the news via Twitter, saying he had accepted the job offer and was excited about the opportunity.

“I'm writing to confirm a rumor. I have returned to government service,” he posted in a second tweet.

Kalin is far from new to the data world. As a presidential innovation fellow working within the Energy Department, Kalin spearheaded the U.S. Energy Data Initiative, which works to unlock data from both the public and private sectors to ignite entrepreneurship.

Kalin's most recent role was serving as director of open data for Socrata, a startup specializing in cloud solutions for governments, according to his LinkedIn account. He has also worked with open data as a special project consultant for Google.

“The chief data officer holds the key to unlocking more government data to help support a data-enabled department and economy,” a Commerce Department press release stated.

Similar to his counterparts in other federal agencies – departments of Transportation, Energy and the Federal Reserve, among others, have CDOs -- Kalin will be tasked with upgrading the department’s data-related abilities, including creating new products and services, the press release stated.

His work will affect all 12 bureaus included within the Commerce Department. Specifically, Kalin is expected to create a platform encompassing all of the department’s data sets, according to the press release. He will likely also lead the effort to upgrade the department's ability to collect and disseminate  piles of data, which Pritzker said, affects the day-to-day lives of Americans.

“Our data appear whenever we check the time on our cell phones,” Pritzker explained during a conference in July. “Our data can shape and redefine economic development, with information on GDP, personal consumption and income.”

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