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Brad Burke and Jeff Chen: Driving the Commerce Data Mission Forward

“Any transition is easier,” Piryanka Chopra says, “if you believe in yourself and your talent.” 

Who is Ms. Chopra?  She’s a young woman whose life has been in constant transition, from being shuttled all over India as a child to becoming a best-known and award-winning Bollywood star and now the first South Asian to headline an American network thriller (Quantico).  Not to mention one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights.

With the change in Presidential Administrations, this is a time of great transition for our nation – and for many of us as professionals across government and here at Commerce and ESA.  For those moving to new chapters in your careers, I hope you believe in yourself and your talent as much as I do.  Because I have been incredibly fortunate to witness first-hand your hard work, dedication, focus, creativity, selflessness, teamwork – and ability to move mountains quickly.

Counselor Justin Antonipillai, Economics & Statistics Administration (left to right), Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Brad Burke, Deputy Chief Data Officer Jeff Chen

Counselor Justin Antonipillai, Economics & Statistics Administration (left to right), Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Brad Burke, Deputy Chief Data Officer Jeff Chen

As Commerce transitions to the new Administration, it is critical that we have strong leadership in key career positions. That means our work to improve the accessibility and usability of Commerce data – and advance our mission to advance data equality in America – will continue, as I strongly believe it should and hope it will.

Toward this end, we’ve scoped out work for Census, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the US Patent and Trademark Office.  All are supporting CDS and working with us to ensure that our joint projects advance their data missions.

Commerce Data Service

And, in transition, these two terrific leaders will be the acting leaders of our Data Pillar:

Brad Burke, our Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs will serve as the Acting Under Secretary and as the leader of our Department’s strategic Data Pillar. 

Brad brings a wealth of management experience to ESA. He has a deep understanding of the federal government and has taken the lead with department officials in addressing important issues including the transition to the next Presidential Administration.

For the past five years, as Director of Administration and Chief Financial Officer for ESA, Brad has assisted in the oversight of operations of ESA and BEA, driving the planning, budgeting, performance and financial management activities. He also provided critical oversight of the Census Bureau’s budget and financial management activities.

In his spare time (ha ha), Brad also has served as a principal liaison with Commerce officials in addressing departmental issues and priorities. 

Before joining ESA, Brad served for six years with the Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, and prior to that, four years at TSA at the Department of Homeland Security. Preceding federal service, Brad served in various executive positions over 20 years in financial services and manufacturing within the private sector. 

We are so fortunate to have someone of Brad’s talents and experience carrying the baton forward – for Commerce, ESA and most important, the nation we serve.

Jeff Chen, our Deputy Chief Data Officer, will serve as our Department’s Acting Chief Data Officer.

Jeff also brings invaluable experience to his new position.

We appointed Jeff in 2015 as the Department’s first-ever Chief Data Scientist. He was a key early leader in the development of the Commerce Data Service and spearheaded key data science projects bringing Digital Age tools and technologies – like data wrangling, predictive analytics and search string analysis – to modernize government.

Jeff also was the lead mentor for the Commerce Data Academy’s in-residence program, where he guided emerging data scientists and data engineers from other Bureaus as they built tools to benefit their missions. These included the beaR library, and new innovations that streamlined management and operations at PTO and the International Trade Administration.

Last spring, Jeff stepped into a leadership vacuum within the CDS and helped to stabilize management and steer them through the completion of key 2015 projects. The team is now finely honed and functioning smoothly due to his leadership.

Jeff joins the team with extensive experience as a data science leader, having led efforts in over 30 fields with NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the New York City Fire Department and the New York City Mayor’s Office, among others. His extensive background developing products and services in a diverse set of fields, ranging from emergency services to public health to legal affairs to trade, will provide enormous value for the Department as we continue our mission to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity.

We are so gratified that Brad and Jeff have agreed to assume these leadership positions.  We’ll be well served by their leadership as the Commerce data mission moves forward.

In my previous posts, I’ve cited the “flywheel effect” [link] to describe our concerted effort, and tremendous progress, in turning “American’s Data Agency” into “America’s Data Engine” to fuel the economy, modernize government, address public needs and advance data equality. Together, we’ve gotten the wheel turning.  The challenge now is to propel that momentum into transformative change. 

With deep belief in Brad and Jeff, and their talents, I’m thankful they’ll be bridging the transition, leading the charge – and driving future change. 


Justin Antonipillai—Counselor to Secretary Penny Pritzker, with the Delegated Duties of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs


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