USDR Brunch and Learn: Put Down Your Digital Hammer


A conversation with Joy Bonaguro, Chief Data Officer of the State of California, on thinking critically about government modernization.

About this event

It’s been said that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The digital hammer of government modernization makes a core assumption: that we should digitize the status quo. Instead of dragging our processes, regulations, and laws into the online age, maybe we should take a step back. Should the things we digitize even exist?

In 2004, the British Design Council introduced a “double diamond” model of design thinking. It divides design into two distinct steps: Design the right thing; and then design the thing right. Yet we too often rush headlong into the second step—good digital practices—without deciding whether we’re transforming the right thing. Unfortunately, reams of data and evidence tell us that our current policies are often misguided, ineffective, or inequitable.

In this talk, Joy Bonaguro frames public sector modernization as an opportunity to look at our goals and see if we’re really innovating—or just perpetuating bad policies and outdated thinking. Borrowing from examples across government, she’ll show us how to think critically about digitization and how to expand our toolkit for modernizing government.

About Joy Bonaguro:

Joy has spent her career working at the nexus of data, design, technology, and policy. Joy was appointed as Chief Data Officer of the State of California with an overarching goal to improve government use of data.

Prior to her state role, she was responsible for scaling internal systems, data, and information security at Corelight, a high-growth cybersecurity startup funded by Accel and General Catalyst. Prior to Corelight, she served as the first Chief Data Officer for the City and County of San Francisco, where she pioneered multiple initiatives to introduce data science, streamline data access, improve data management, and boost capacity to use data. Before that, Joy developed technology, cyber and privacy policy across the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory System.

Her career started in New Orleans with seven years designing and managing the development of information systems to support planning and decision-making for local governments and nonprofits. Joy earned her Master's degree from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and her Bachelor's in Mathematics and Philosophy from Tulane University.


U.S. Digital Response



Date & Time

June 28, 2022, 10 a.m. - June 28, 2022, 11 a.m.



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