Pioneers of a More Data Driven Union

Episode 4 - What can the Chief Data Officers do to accelerate AI adoption in Government?

What can the Chief Data Officers do to accelerate AI adoption in Government?

In this episode, we were honored to have distinguished guest David Spirk, Chief Data Office of the Department of Defense, join the podcast to discuss how the CDO role is being used to accelerate AI adoption in the government.

Listen as they discuss some of the challenges in transforming an organization from data informed to data led, the role that the CDO plays in driving substantive change throughout an organization, what function he envisions AI will play in five years, and more topics.

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In this episode you will learn:

  • The biggest challenges in moving a large organization to be more data-driven and how the CDO role can address them.
  • The areas that David sees as the biggest opportunities to leverage AI at the DoD.
  • Success stories in using AI at the DoD.
  • The role that David envisions AI/ML will play in the next 5 years.
  • What motivates David to drive government innovation.

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About This Episode's Participants

David Spirk | Guest

Dave was appointed as the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Chief Data Officer (CDO) in June 2020. In this role, he is responsible for standing up the DoD’s Data Office and driving a strong focus on warfighter needs, data governance, and a data-ready workforce to create a strong data culture across the department.

Prior to his appointment as the CDO for the department, he held a number of high-profile leadership roles in the development of data and AI strategies as well as implementation at US Special Operations Command, US Special Operation Forces, Secretary of Air Force Office.  He also held senior-level positions in leading intelligence operations at US Central Command and other places.

Dave is a former Marine who served across echelons at various east coast elements setting the stage for many deployments throughout the Balkans, Africa, and South Asia. As a member of Task Force-58, more specifically the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), he participated in the seizure of Kandahar Airfield and the reopening of the American Embassy in Kabul. Following his time in Afghanistan, Dave received orders to USSOUTHCOM where he deployed to Colombia numerous times and held various analytic/targeting positions before receiving an honorable discharge.

Christina Ho | Host

Christina Ho is the former VP of Government Analytics & Innovation at Elder Research where she utilized decades of broad experience in public finance, policy development, strategic planning, program and financial management, accounting and auditing, data analytics, and technology innovation to enable impactful government actions and transformation. Among many accomplishments, she was the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Transparency at US Treasury and was responsible for leading the implementation of the DATA Act of 2014.


Key Moments From This Episode

3:00 David talks about what made him decide to take the role of a Chief Data Officer in the Department of Defense.

5:25 David talks about what he has been focusing on since his appointment to being the Chief Data Officer.

8:27 David talks about some of the challenges faced in moving an organization from data informed to data driven to data led and the role of a Chief Data Officer in addressing these challenges.

13:02 David talks about AI and which areas he thinks presents the biggest opportunity at Department of Defense.

17:29 David also talks about how he envision the Department of Defense will be using machine learning in five years.

19:53 David talks about how different the current transformation the Department of Defense is undergoing with AI will lead to even fasten the decision making and how it differs from previous transformations the department has seen.

22:46 David talks about what motivates him to do the hard things that he does such as innovating the government.