Dr. Timothy Persons
Government Accountability Office
Tim Persons is the Chief Scientist of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO provides Congress, the heads of executive agencies, and the public with timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can be used to improve government and save taxpayers billions of dollars. Within GAO, Dr. Persons is the Managing Director of the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team. He is also the founder of the Innovation Lab, a research and development environment that uses emerging technology to rethink analytics, auditing, and cybersecurity.
Through his dual-hatted role, Dr. Persons oversees a wide spectrum of work spanning advanced data analytic activities, as well as the exploration of emerging technologies, such as machine learning systems, blockchain, and cloud cybersecurity research. He leads a large team of scientists, technologists, and engineers — as well as policy analysts — who provide technology assessments on subjects ranging from artificial intelligence to sustainable chemistry to 5G wireless technology. He also leads a group that specializes in cost and schedule analysis of complex federal programs. Through this work, Dr. Persons advises Congress on a range of science and technology policy options. Prior to joining GAO, Dr. Persons served as the Technical Director for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) as well as the technical lead for Quantum Information Sciences and Biometrics research groups for the Information Assurance Directorate at the National Security Agency.
Dr. Persons is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a recipient of a 2020 Fed 100 Award in recognition of national AI/ML leadership, a 2020 Comptroller General Award for Agile digital transformation of GAO and leadership of STAA, a 2020 GAO Integrity Award for key science leadership throughout the pandemic, a 2016 James Madison University (JMU) Distinguished Alumnus Award, a 2014 recipient of a GAO Distinguished Service Award, a 2012 recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming award in recognition of sustained outstanding and meritorious achievement within the U.S. Federal government; and a 2019, 2012, and 2010 recipient of GAO’s Big Picture Award for significant project achievement involving the ability to look longer, broader, and more strategically at key national or global issues. In 2007, Dr. Persons was awarded a Director of National Intelligence Science and Technology Fellowship focusing on computational imaging systems research. He was also selected as the JMU Physics Alumnus of 2007.
Dr. Persons received his B.Sc. (Physics) from JMU, a M.Sc. (Nuclear Physics) from Emory University, and M.Sc. (Computer Science) and Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering) degrees from Wake Forest University. He is a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), a council member (ex officio) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR), a member (ex officio) of the National Academy of Medicine’s Committee on Emerging Science, Technology, and Innovation, and a member of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM) Advisory Board.