Biden Review Teams Include Many Former Tech Officials and Digital Service Members
The transition also includes a U.S. Digital Service-specific review team.
If the early list of advisers is any indication, the administration of President-elect Joe Biden will be heavily influenced by technology experts who spent time in government as part of an Obama-era program that remained through the Trump administration: the U.S. Digital Service.
The Biden/Harris administration is moving ahead with transition plans, including releasing a list of agency review teams that will land at specific departments and programs to assess the current state and needs of each.
The review teams are packed full of prominent names who have spent time working on federal policies and programs, many while working at federal agencies. There are also a ton of people who worked on important technology issues outside or adjacent to the government.
For the purposes of this list, we kept it to former government employees who worked on tech issues.
The highest ranking former fed with a technology-focus is Aneesh Chopra, who served as the first U.S. chief technology officer, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Chopra, currently the president of health care analytics company CareJourney, is serving on the U.S. Postal Service review team.
The Biden/Harris agency review teams include a group focused solely on the U.S. Digital Service, an outfit created when Biden was vice president.This is the first time an agency review team has been specifically created for USDS, a transition spokesperson confirmed to Nextgov.
USDS originated in 2014 after the Healthcare.gov website crashed soon after going live. The service was designed to bring private sector technology experience to D.C. for short-term stints to work on really hard problems at agencies across the government.
The group remains, working on projects at several agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Small Business Administration, and has permanent offshoots established at the Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Defense departments.
The team that will be reviewing USDS for the Biden/Harris transition includes Matt Bailey, who worked in the Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer under Trump and Obama, and Andrew Nacin, who also served under both presidents as a member of USDS from 2015 to 2018.
But there are also a ton of USDS alumni included on other review teams:
Victor Garcia of Rebellion Defense worked with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services while on the USDS team. He will be advising on the DOD review team.
Lisa Wiswell Coe will also be on the DOD team. She served with the Defense Digital Service and helped establish the Hack the Pentagon program. Coe is employed with OtherSide Consulting.
HHS is bringing back at least two former USDS members: Mina Hsiang of Devoted Health and Natalie Kates of Alloy. The two cofounded and co-directed the USDS team at HHS.
The Labor Department team includes Viv Graubard, New America’s senior adviser for public interest technology and founding member of USDS. Graubard also served as chief of staff and senior adviser to the U.S. CTO.
Liyan David Chang, with Devoted Health, was a member of USDS’s team at IRS. Chang will be sitting on two review teams: the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration.
Matt Collier, who worked with USDS on human resources projects at DOD in 2015—just prior to the establishment of the Defense Digital Service offshoot—is on the review team for the government’s HR department: the Office of Personnel Management. Collier is a senior director at Prudential.
The Social Security Administration review team includes USDS-alumni David Holmes of Rebellion Defense and Raphael Majma of Alloy. Holmes served as USDS director of engineering under both Obama and Trump. During the Obama administration, Majma served in a number of roles, including stints with USDS—including serving as director of the State Department Digital Service—as well as the Presidential Innovation Fellows, a senior adviser to the U.S. CTO, and as a product manager with 18F, an internal tech consultancy based out of the General Services Administration.
Like USDS, 18F also brings private sector tech experts into government for short terms. Along with Majma, other former 18Fers include Chris Goranson, currently with the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, joins the Interior Department review team. While at 18F, Goranson worked on projects at Interior, as well as NASA, the National Science Foundation, Commerce Department, U.S. Forest Service, Navy and USAID.
A number of former agency chief information officers are coming back to advise on the transition.
Ashwin Vasan of Sophant previously served as CIO at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2013 to 2016. Vasan will be returning to advise with the CFPB review team.
Ann Dunkin of Dell Technologies has joined the review team for her former department, the Environmental Protection Agency, where she served as CIO from 2014 to 2017.
The Office of Management and Budget team includes another Obama-era CIO: Mark Schwartz, who works at Amazon Web Services but formerly led IT operations at USCIS.
Michael Hornsby, director of customer success at Salesforce, is on the team landing at the General Services Administration. Prior to joining Salesforce, Hornsby spent nearly eight years serving in various technology-related positions in the White House, including serving as acting CIO for the Executive Office of the President.
The National Security Council landing team includes another former White House IT manager, Austin Lin, who served in several positions in the Obama White House, including associate director for operations, senior technical program manager and deputy director of IT.
Lin is joined on the NSC team by Nicole Wong, deputy U.S. CTO under Obama. Wong joins the transition on two review teams: the NSC and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where the U.S. CTO serves as deputy administrator.
OSTP’s team is stacked with a number of tech experts. Former tech-focused government employees include Wong; Cristin Dorgelo, who served with OSTP from 2012 to 2017 and worked on Challenge.gov; Kei Koizumi, chief adviser on science, technology and research and development budgets for eight years; and Erin Szulman, co-developer of the National Strategic Computing Initiative.
Kate Gage of The Movement Cooperative is returning to her roots with the International Development landing team, which will review the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and USAID. Gage served at USAID during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak. She later served as a senior policy adviser for international science and technology at the White House from 2016 to 2017.
The Defense Department review team is stocking up on former Pentagon techies, including Michelle Howard, who teaches at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Among her many credentials, Howard holds the distinction of being the first woman to achieve a four-star rank in the Navy and the first Black woman to captain a ship. During her time in the military, Howard also served as vice chief naval officer, focused on cyber culture and information security.
Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is also on the DOD team. Hunter worked under Obama’s last defense secretary, Ash Carter, serving as a senior executive covering acquisition, technology and logistics.
The Justice Department is bringing back the FBI’s former lead data strategist, Afua Bruce, who also served in OSTP. Bruce is the chief program officer at DataKind.
Another OSTP alumnus, Austin Brown, is on the Transportation Department review team. Brown served as OSTP assistant director for clean energy and transportation in the Obama administration.
And the intelligence community is seeing the return of some familiar faces. Retired Lt. Gen. Vince Stewart is on that review team, bringing his experience as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and deputy director of U.S. Cyber Command.
Stewart is joined by Natalie Evans Harris, currently with Brighthive and a former adviser to the U.S. CTO under Obama, and Sean Roche, who served as the CIA’s associate deputy director for digital innovation.
This article was updated with comment from the Biden transition team.
Heather Kuldell, Mila Jasper, Brandi Vincent, Mariam Baksh and Frank Konkel contributed to this report.