DJ Patil is well known in the data science community and I think it is great that the Obama Administration scooped him up to help with their data efforts. He has outlined his role and the potential impact of data science today:
The Obama administration has embraced the use of data to improve the operation of the U.S. government and the interactions that people have with it. On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13642, which made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information. Over the past few years, the Administration has launched a number of Open Data Initiatives aimed at scaling up open data efforts across the government, helping make troves of valuable data – data that taxpayers have already paid for – easily accessible to anyone. In fact, I used data made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve numerical methods of weather forecasting as part of my doctoral work. So I know firsthand just how valuable this data can be – it helped get me through school!
It is exciting to see the administration embrace the power of data. I hope that other governments follow their lead.