White House CIO To Help USAID Leverage Tech in Ebola Outbreak

September 22, 2014 in News

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that White House CIO Steve VanRoekel will join USAID as its chief innovation officer to help the agency’s Ebola response team leverage technology and data analytics, Modern Healthcare reports (Rice, Modern Healthcare, 9/19).

VanRoekel previously served as USAID’s executive director of citizen and organizational engagement (Sink, The Hill, 9/19).

Background

This year’s Ebola outbreak is the largest and longest ever recorded for the disease, affecting individuals in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria (iHealthBeat, 8/11). According to the World Health Organization, more than 5,000 individuals have been infected with the disease this year, resulting in more than 2,600 deaths (Mershon, Politico, 9/19).

As part of the government’s response efforts, CDC has deployed an outbreak-tracking application to field workers, as well as an automated data analysis tool that helps model and predict potential disease transmission (Hay Newman, “Future Tense,” Slate, 9/19).

Details of VanRoekel’s New Role

According to Politico, VanRoekel in his new role will serve as senior adviser to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah (Politico, 9/19).

VanRoekel will help the response team improve its use of technology in addressing the outbreak, in part by helping USAID analyze real-time data, according to The Hill.

In a statement, Shah said that VanRoekel “will help us harness technologies like open data and mobile platforms to reach communities and households with powerful and life-saving information to help stop the devastating Ebola outbreak” (The Hill, 9/19).

Meanwhile, the administration announced that Deputy Administrator Lisa Schlosser has been named interim CIO and will oversee the Office of E-Government Information Technology while the administration looks for VanRoekel’s replacement (Politico, 9/19).

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