Marion Royal and Hyon Kim:'s dynamic duo

Kim and Royal

Marion Royal (left) and Hyon Kim lead the small team behind the government's data portal.

The growth of from 47 data sets at its launch in May 2009 to more than 400,000 today is impressive. It's even more so when one considers that the team running it can be counted on one hand.

Program Director Marion Royal has been part of the team from Day One, and Deputy Program Director Hyon Kim joined in 2010 — first as a detailee from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, then in a permanent role. Along with Program Manager Alan Vander Mallie, a single project management oversight contractor, and evangelist Jeanne Holm (who is detailed from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Kim and Royal manage the site. Their focus is on coordinating with more than 170 contributing agencies and looking for ways to encourage better use of the data from those within and outside the government.

puzzle logo

A look at little-known agency experts who are pushing critical broad-based initiatives, plus other leaders whose influence bears watching.

Holm is usually the public face of, but Kim and Royal said that internally, there are few bright lines between team responsibilities. "I don't think there's a formal split," Kim said. "We're very small, and everybody just jumps in and contributes and makes sure that as a team everything gets done."

Kim and Royal bring different and complementary skills to Royal is a 21-year veteran of the General Services Administration and has worked on a wide range of agencywide and governmentwide data standards. In addition to her years at ODNI, Kim has worked on both sides of Capitol Hill, for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and on the staff of the 9/11 Commission. Among many other responsibilities, she ensures that's growing repository does not create national security or personal privacy risks.

Kim and Royal are excited about the next chapter in's growth. The site recently debuted an expanded suite of application programming interfaces and a new data catalog built on an open-source system called the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network. Both tools are intended to encourage ongoing data use rather than one-time downloads.

And President Barack Obama's recent executive order declaring open and machine-readable data as the new default for agencies sets the stage for still more data-driven work.

"Our initial stage was in getting all this data together," Kim said. "In the next iteration, there's going to be more focus on emphasizing the effects of the use of this data and making more accessible." Royal agreed. "I am much more excited about the potential of open data across the government than I am about the potential of [just]"

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of, Schneider also helped launch the political site in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times,, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group