DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist, Q&A on

On June 9, DJ Patil, held a Q&A session on Patil, who is the U.S. Chief Data Scientist with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is responsible for developing policies and practices to help the U.S. maintain its leadership in technology and innovation, fostering partnerships to maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data and helping attract and retain the best minds in data science to serve the public.

Below are responses to key Q&A’s from the session, as well as a video of President Obama explaining the role.

Q. Where do you look for emerging trends (e.g. sources, events, websites, etc.)?

A. My favorite site to look for data is For trends, my favorite thing is to go to meetups; there are great ones on tech, data, etc. To learn more about it, check out:… The other thing that I’m lucky to have is time with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The best thing there is to check out their reports:…

Q. What has most surprised you about being the United States’ first Chief Data Scientist?

A. The most awesome thing is how amazing America really is. If you want to get a sense of power of our remarkable country, hang out at a science fair. We just had one here at the White House and I was amazed at the work all these “kids” are doing. They’re literally figuring out how to deal with everything from preventing renal failure to two young girls who figured out how to launch a toy into space.…

Q. Is it better to be data driven or data informed?

A. A data-driven organization acquires, processes, and leverages data in a timely fashion to create efficiencies, iterate on and develop new products, and navigate the competitive landscape. Data-driven government responsibly gathers, processes, leverages, and releases data in a timely fashion to enable transparency, create efficiencies, provides security, foster innovation

In both of these models data is used to make better decisions. There is always a time when you may need to ignore the data. But when that happens, you have to have the ability to monitor and measure to allow you to iterate FAST!

Q. What drives you towards data science as opposed to computer science; where the skill set can often overlap?

A. I’m a fan of all science! Data, CS, math, etc. Check out the writing that Hilary Mason and I have done on this to get more of my personal views.

Q. Can you tell us how a data scientist or a team of data scientists can change or affect a nation’s path?

A. Check out our talk at the Commonwealth Club in Ca on exactly this topic:… The bottom line is that every technologist can have an enormous impact. There’s never been a better time to work on a problem bigger than you and will impact your kids and your kids’ kids.

To read the Q&A in its entirety, click here:

We also asked the same questions of some of our home grown talent with experience in the field here at LexisNexis. We’ll be posting their responses as a series of three blog posts: