October 10, 2013

Capital Gains

Scott Hartley ’11 is helping the White House Office of Social Innovation and USAID develop data-driven, evidence-based approaches to policy — bringing Silicon Valley models to the federal government.

Print this story

Great ideas can come from anywhere. That’s the theory Scott Hartley ’11 is instilling in the nation’s capital. The recently named Presidential Innovation Fellow is helping the White House Office of Social Innovation and USAID develop data-driven, evidence-based approaches to policy — bringing Silicon Valley models to the federal government.

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program pairs top innovators from the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors with government officials to develop solutions to specific problems. Hartley is a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a $2 billion venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA, which invests in early-stage technology companies. Previously, he worked for Facebook, Google, and at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Columbia Business: What can Washington, DC, learn from Silicon Valley?

Scott Hartley: As Silicon Valley has seen start-up costs decrease, there has been a move toward higher-frequency product iteration, testing models to see what works, measuring results with data, and interpreting results with analytics. This rapid prototyping — or “lean” process of “build, measure, learn" — is something that has broad applicability not just in Silicon Valley, but to inform data-driven, iterative, evidence-based policy making. If the iterative pace and agility of Silicon Valley could be merged with the scale of Washington, that could yield big impact.