Some reflections on my time in public service

For the past year, I’ve had the privilege to serve as the Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles.

It has been a privilege, an honor. To say the least.

After a wonderfully educational and illuminating year, I’ve decided this ride is over.

There’s much more I’ll likely write about my experience and my learnings, but a few essential thoughts come to mind as I wrap up my brief stint in the public sector:

  • Ask some questions: What I found myself doing in meeting after meeting as just asking questions. “What about this,” “How about this option,” or “Could we try this?” Mostly this was for my education — my way to learn why things were the way they were. But sometimes this turned out to be fruitful. One time I was in a meeting where a department wanted to build a new mobile app (and spend countless dollars) and it turned out all they needed to do was just mobile-optimize their website. These are small, but meaningful wins. Indeed, the best compliment I ever received in this job was a few months in, “You’re already changing the way people in the city think about problems.”

All that said, no one should ever think public service is an easy task. It’s hard. But meaningful. My greatest thanks go out to the people who made this possible for me, the people who continue on this important task, and the people I hope will follow into it in the future.

tech optimist and political phil nerd. hacker, writer & maker: fmr CDO, @lamayorsoffice; @google; @codeforamerica.

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