The public relies on government services during critical and meaningful events throughout their lives—from birth, travel, education, and healthcare to retirement and death. The global COVID-19 pandemic inevitably impacted these critical functions of our lives, and underscored the need for increased government technology and communications.
Digital platforms have proved to be key and effective agents in delivering critical and urgent information or services in the event of a public crisis, as opposed to physical infrastructure (imagine Dr. Fauci posting a paper bulletin to convey the latest national statistics for COVID-related data!). On the other hand, both private and public entities rallied around open data initiatives to inform critical policy decisions, share information, and work together to develop critical digital infrastructure that provided testing sites, kits, and results (e.g., call centers vs websites; office visits vs telemedicine).
To fully scale solutions such as these, we must first consider how we:
1) Use data to inform our technology in solving problems;
2) Provide assistance in a timely and approachable manner for end users; and
3) How we use data to invest in critical features and to quickly deliver information.
About our guest
Dr. Honey is the Chief Data Scientist of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Executive Director of the HHS “InnovationX” team within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). Her team tackles complex challenges by harnessing the power of open data, open science, open source, citizen science, crowdsourcing, prizes challenges, and innovative public-private partnerships for public health. Current priorities include improving citizen’s experiences with government services using the novel HHS Health+ (“health plus”) program and other human-centered design methodologies.
Kristen has served the federal government in multiple capacities for eight years. After her AAAS Science & Technology Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Honey worked at the White House for three years across two Administrations. Under the Obama Administration (2015 – 2017), she advised the U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and led Open Data and My Data (data interoperability) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2015-2017). Under the Trump Administration (2017 – 2018), she served in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), directing the Open Data portfolio for the Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer until the passage of the foundations for Evidence Based Policy Making Act. Dr. Honey then moved to HHS to advise the HHS CTO and advance the CTO’s digital innovation, human-centered, and partnerships portfolios. During the COVID-19 pandemic response, Dr. Honey served on the COVID-19 Testing and Diagnostics Working Group, managed a 50-person “COVID-19 Diagnostics Informatics” team, and helped HHS establish its new Office of the Chief Data Officer.
Dr. Honey earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in the Environment and Resources, School of Earth Sciences and her Ph.D. minor in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She also holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a B.A. in Human Biology with Honors from Stanford University.