Dr. Radha Iyengar Plumb appointed Department of Defense Chief Digital and AI Officer

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III swears in Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer Radha Plumb at the Pentagon, April 9, 2024. PHOTO: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD.

The Pentagon announced April 9, 2024, it is appointing an Indian American technical and strategic expert, Radha Iyengar Plumb, to lead the Department of Defense’s acceleration of the adoption of data, analytics, and AI to generate decision advantage.

In a ceremony held at the Pentagon April 9, Dr. Radha Plumb was officially sworn in as the Department of Defense (DoD) Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO).

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III administered the oath of office to Plumb with family and colleagues in attendance. Plumb most recently served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

Radha Iyengar Plumb. PHOTO: Linkedin

“It is an honor to serve in this role at a critical time for our nation,” Dr. Plumb is quoted saying in the press release. “AI and digital innovation provide crucial new technologies and capabilities for our warfighters,” said Dr. Plumb. “I am looking forward to collaborating with partners from military leaders to industry partners and academia to our allies and partners to ensure we deliver digital and AI technological advancements at speed and scale,” she added.

Dr. Plumb assumes the role of CDAO having completed her last assignment working acquisition matters related to DoD, including building out and maintaining a robust national security industrial base and supply chain.

She brings significant technical expertise in data and AI development as well as creative acquisition approaches combined with strategic acumen to advance the CDAO’s innovative efforts, DoD said in the press release.

“Her combination of government and industry experience will provide a unique advantage to drive accelerated adoption of data, analytics, and AI across DOD,” the department added.

Prior to joining DoD, Plumb worked in various industry positions in Google, RAND and Facebook. She was the Director of Research and Insights for Trust & Safety at Google and had previously served as Global Head of Policy Analysis at Facebook. Before her Silicon Valley work, Dr. Plumb was a senior economist at the RAND Corporation where she focused on improving measurement and evaluation of readiness and security efforts across the Department of Defense.

According to her bio on defense.gov, from 2014-2015, Dr. Plumb served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Energy, where she led policy processes including budget and policy reviews related to modernizing nuclear infrastructure and efforts to enhance energy sector security and resilience.

Previously, she was the director of personnel and readiness at the National Security Council, where she was instrumental on executive actions on sexual assault in the military. She also served as policy advisor and Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.

She also served as a civilian in Afghanistan conducting measurement and assessment work to support the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team for the Commander, International Security Assistance Force.

Dr. Plumb earned her Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and began her career as an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Harvard.

The CDAO is a relatively new office which became operational in June 2022 and aims at accelerating the adoption of data, analytics, and AI at DoD.



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