Meet the Head of the Pentagon’s Agile New Digital Team

By Patrick Tucker

November 18, 2015

The Pentagon is standing up a Defense Digital Service, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today. Modeled on the White House’s own agile cadre of technology wizards, the DoD DDS will be a small team of engineers and data experts meant to “improve the Department's technological agility and solve its most complex IT problems,” defense officials said.  

In a Nov. 18 speech at George Washington University, Carter said the DDS “will bring in talent from America’s technology community to work for a specific period of time, or for a specific project, to apply a more innovative and agile approach to solving DoD’s complex IT problems. It will be led by Chris Lynch, a serial entrepreneur in the tech world. And Chris is not only sitting in the audience; it’s also his first day on the job. He flew out here from the West Coast just yesterday. Welcome to the team, Chris.”

Lynch previously served on the White House’s U.S. Digital Service, launched in August 2014 after the debacle, where he revamped tech and policy to improve delivery and manage benefits for service members.

The DoD DDS follows in the spirit of the USDS, and in the footsteps of other executive-agency teams subsequently created around the federal government. In April, Carter announced that his own department would create a similar team. “DOD doesn’t have many effective ways to harness promising technologies they come up with,” the secretary said at the time. “We need to fix that. I don’t want us to lose out on an innovative idea or capability we need because the Pentagon bureaucracy was too slow to fund something, or we weren’t amenable to working with as many startups as we could be.”

Carter’s pick to lead this new team, Lynch, previously served as a vice president for Daptiv (acquired by ChangePoint) and at Microsoft as development manager in charge of the architecture, engineering, and operation of a global customer relationship management application. “He has built companies focused on personal health, big data analytics for enterprise, consumer gifting, gaming platforms, customer insights, and engineering processes and services,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Lynch is also a hobbyist photographer, tech geek, music lover, consumer of all things media, triathlete and Ironman.”

Note: Lynch, serial entrepreneur and new head of DDS, should not be confused with Chris Lynch, serial entrepreneur, and co-founder of Boston-based tech incubator Hack/Reduce who led the first hackathon with the Defense Department.

By Patrick Tucker // Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The Sun, MIT Technology Review, Wilson Quarterly, The American Legion Magazine, BBC News Magazine, Utne Reader, and elsewhere.

November 18, 2015