When Bryan Sivak took over the role of chief technology officer of Washington, D.C. he was left with a successful legacy to carry on.
Former D.C. CTO Vivek Kundra had spun his success in the District into his current position of Federal CIO, where, along with CTO Aneesh Chopra, he helps lead the massive undertaking of the Open Government Initiative. In Washington, he launched several initiatives that have since been copied in places like New York City and San Francisco.
But Sivak isn’t looking to the past to guide him – he’ll be leaning on years of success in the private sector in his new job.
He has already founded two firms – InQira and Electric Knowledge LLC, which offered the world’s first Natural Language Search engine available on the internet.
“Well it’s always been kind of in the back of my head that public service would be an interesting and effective use of my time and it’s something that I can really sink my teeth into,” said Sivak. I never had any intentions of leaving or doing anything different, but to be honest, the opportunity from my perspective, was too interesting to pass up. D.C. is a fascinating town and the opportunities to leverage technology, to really change the way people live, I think, are enormous.”
A key point that has the potential to set Sivak’s tenure apart from that of those who came before him is his commitment to keeping the D.C. government light on its feet.
“I think a lot of these things that we’re trying to do are longer term processes, but I want to make sure we start down the road and actually show results in a rapid fashion,” he said. “I want to make sure that we do things that we can actually see value from really quickly and again, I think that goes to the concept of agile government and making sure we’re actually doing things in a robust fashion, but one that actually happens quickly.”
While Sivak’s goal would be a big shift from the norm for the District, he feels the government is up to the challenge.
“It’s process change, it’s culture change, but what I’ve found is that people just need a little bit of a push, not a push but a different perspective on seeing things in maybe a slightly different way and people are very excited about that idea. Everybody that works at OCTO, in particular, and I suspect across the entire government, have been stymied by bureaucracy in the past and I think they just need to see that there’s a different way to do things and given that different way of doing things, we can actually move quickly.”