Preparing Your Agency for AI and Automation

Dr. Timothy M. Persons, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist and Managing Director
Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics

Government Accountability Office

Dr. Timothy M. Persons is the Chief Scientist and Managing Director of the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO - the oversight, insight, and foresight entity of the U.S. Congress). Dr. Persons is the founder of GAO’s Innovation Lab – an exploratory research and development environment for advanced data analytic activities as well as the exploration of emerging technologies such as machine learning systems, blockchain, and cloud cybersecurity research at GAO. He also is the managing executive director of GAO’s science, technology, and engineering portfolio – including technology assessment, technical assistance, and engineering in support of the Congress and GAO. In these roles he leads a large interdisciplinary technical team that advises Congress, generates policy options, and informs legislation on topics in the computational sciences (such as artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics), physical sciences (such as sustainable chemistry and nuclear waste management), life sciences (such as epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases and biosurety of Select Agents), and engineering (such as IoT, 3D printing, and hypersonic systems). He also directed the production and release of GAO’s Best Practices Guides – Cost, Schedule, Technology Readiness Assessment, and Agile Software Development. 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 recipient of a 2020 Fed 100 Award in recognition of national AI/ML leadership, 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.