Nick Sinai

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Nick Sinai
Nick Sinai.jpg
Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States
Under Todd Park
In office
January 2013 – December 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Succeeded byRyan Panchadsaram
Energy and Environment Director, Federal Communications Commission
In office
August 2009 – December 2010
PresidentBarack Obama
Personal details
Alma materHarvard
University of Chicago [1]

Nick Sinai is a venture capitalist, adjunct faculty at Harvard Kennedy School, and a former senior official in the Obama Administration. 

Nick was the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States.[2] He assumed this role under the second Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Todd Park, and continued under Megan Smith. Sinai was formerly a Senior Advisor to Park as well as to the first U.S. CTO, Aneesh Chopra, starting in 2010.[3]

Nick was a volunteer on the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and was selected to the leadership team of her Tech and Innovation transition team. During the campaign, he contributed to the Hillary for America policy proposal on technology and innovation, and a policy memo on transforming procurement.[4]

Nick is a regular contributor to the TV Show Government Matters[5], and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal[6] and the Economist.[7]

Harvard Kennedy School[edit]

As Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Nick teaches the field class “Technology and Innovation in Government.” His students learn user-centered design, prototyping, user-testing, and how to hack bureaucracies with empathy to get stuff done.[8]

Nick was the inaugural Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he focused on data as public infrastructure and the media, policy, and economic implications of providing greater public access to government data.[9][10] Nick is currently a faculty affiliate of the Shorenstein Center.[11]

Nick co-authored a 2017 Harvard Business School case about the U.S. Digital Service, a Politico op-ed on digital government, and is a regular blogger about modernizing government.[12]

Nick is a faculty affiliate and co-founder of Digital HKS, a new initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School to train public leaders to understand digital technologies to improve public leadership, activate civic participation, and inform governance.[13] Nick has argued large tech companies should “strengthen their infrastructure for policing their platforms and be much more transparent”[14] saying that "tech companies need to realize that presumption of good faith is eroding," and that "they need to make sure they are good neighbors, good employers, good at delivering on the promises they make to customers, and think hard about who they have been leaving out or affecting."[15]

Nick is a faculty mentor to the Harvard Open Data Project, a group of over 40 Harvard College students showcasing uses of Harvard University data—including predicting the results of the undergraduate student government election.[16] Nick is an advisor to Coding It Forward, a student-led nonprofit empowering computer science, data science, and design students to create social good—starting with federal agency internships.[17] Coding It Forward, in year two, placed 36 technology students in six federal agencies: Census, HHS, GSA, ITA, VA, and the State Department.[18]

Insight Venture Partners[edit]

Nick is a Senior Advisor and Venture Partner at Insight Venture Partners.[19] Founded in 1995, Insight Venture Partners has raised more than $23 billion and invested in more than 300 growth-stage software, internet, and data companies, including $6.3 billion for its latest fund 10.[20] The firm has over 150 current portfolio companies, has overseen over 225 M&A transactions and has participated in more than 40 IPOs.[21] In the first six months of 2018, three of the top 10 highest valued US venture-backed companies that went public were Insight portfolio companies.[22]

Nick joined Insight in late 2014.[23] Nick is a board member at BrightBytes[24] and helped invest in Virgin Pulse[25] and Recorded Future.[26]

Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States[edit]

As U.S. Deputy CTO, Nick led President Obama’s Open Data Initiatives to liberate data to fuel innovation and economic growth.[27][28][29] A prominent advocate and frequent speaker for Open Data,[30][31][32][33] he has said “government data is a valuable asset and should be available wherever possible”[34] and that data “should be thought of as infrastructure."[35] He contributed to President Obama’s Executive Order 13642,[36] the re-launch of,[37] Project Open Data,[38] the U.S. Digital Services Playbook,[39] the G8 Open Data Charter,[40] the White House Big Data report,[41] and the U.S. Open Data Action Plan.

Nick led Administration efforts to give Americans easier access to their own data and to advance the idea that Americans deserve secure access to their own healthcare (Blue Button),[42] energy, student loan, tax, and other personal data in machine-readable formats. Nick launched the White House’s Green Button Initiative,[43] a public-private effort to provide electricity customers online access to their own energy usage data.[44]

He led the Open Government Initiative[45] and developed the second U.S. Open Government Plan,[46] to ensure that the federal government is more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Improvements underway as part of the plan include greater fiscal transparency,[47] opening up the We the People online petition platform, and improving service for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.[48] Nick was part of the U.S. delegation at the Open Government Partnership Head of State event,[49] where President Obama unveiled new transparency commitments to improve accessibility to federal financial data, improve federal digital services, strengthen patient privacy in the health care system, and develop a federal open source software policy.[50][51]

Nick also helped start and grow the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which brings tech-savvy entrepreneurs into the federal government for year-long "tours of duty", with a particular focus on data innovation projects.[52][53] Nick also contributed to the launch and growth of U.S. Digital Service, including co-authoring part of the Digital Services Playbook.[54][55] In January 2017, with less than an hour left in office, President Obama signed the TALENT Act, bipartisan legislation that made the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program a permanent part of the Federal government. Nick’s role in the legislation and the details of the dramatic signing was captured in a WIRED piece entitled “The Race to Pass Obama’s Last Law and Save Tech in DC.”[56]

Nick also played a key role in developing the Administration’s $4.5B grid modernization strategy[57] to build a smarter and more secure electric grid,[58] and helped develop President Obama’s ConnectED initiative[59] to bring fast broadband and digital learning to 99% of students.[60]

National Broadband Plan[edit]

Prior to the White House, Nick served at the Federal Communications Commission, where he helped draft the National Broadband Plan.[61][62][63] The plan included recommendations that the U.S. should modernize the electrical grid, improve the energy efficiency of the IT industry, and unleash “energy innovation in homes and buildings by making energy data readily accessible by consumers.”[64] In 2009, Congressman Ed Markey introduced legislation, the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act (e-KNOW Act), H.R.5696, in the 111th Congress (2009-2010), based on the policy recommendations in the National Broadband Plan.[65] President Obama also put forth a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan that “Congress should make clear that state, regional and local governments can build broadband networks”[66] as a policy proposal in the build up to his 2015 State of the Union.[67][68]

Earlier career[edit]

Nick was a venture capitalist at Polaris Partners and Lehman Brothers Venture Partners (now Tenaya Capital).[69] At Polaris, Nick invested in LogMeIn, a company that went public in 2009.[70] Nick also served in executive and advisory roles with two Boston area start-up technology companies, and served as a senior advisor to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.[71]

Nick earned an M.B.A from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and an A.B. from Harvard University.[69]


Nick has been named Top 25 most influential people under 40 in gov and tech,[72] to the 25th edition of the Federal 100,[73] to the Networked Grid 100: The Movers and Shakers of the Smart Grid,[74] and to the FedScoop 50 for Federal Leadership.[75]

Works and Publications[edit]

  • Weiss, Mitchell, Nick Sinai, and Michael Norris. "U.S. Digital Service." Harvard Business School Case 817-032, December 2016.
  • Omnibus Broadband Initiative. “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan"[76]


  1. ^ BusinessWeek Executive Profile: Nick Sinai
  2. ^ The White House: OSTP Leadership & Staff Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Building a Strong, Lasting Economy With Energy Innovation
  4. ^ "Clinton Campaign: We Would've Made Procurement Great Again". Bloomberg News. December 28, 2016. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  5. ^ "Government Matters". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  6. ^ McKinnon, John (September 15, 2017). "Tech Firms Find Washington Isn't So Hands-Off Anymore". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Big technology firms are newly in the hot seat at home". The Economist. 2017-09-21. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  8. ^ Sinai, Nick (2018-06-26). "Harvard Students Hack Government with Empathy". Nick Sinai. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  9. ^ "Aneesh Chopra and Nick Sinai announced as the inaugural Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellows". Shorenstein Center. 2014-11-03. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  10. ^ "Nick Sinai: Writing and Events". Shorenstein Center. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  11. ^ "Faculty and Staff". Shorenstein Center. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  12. ^ "Nick Sinai". Medium. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  13. ^ "digital HKS". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  14. ^ "Big technology firms are newly in the hot seat at home". The Economist. 2017-09-21. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  15. ^ McKinnon, John (September 15, 2017). "Tech Firms Find Washington Isn't So Hands-Off Anymore". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  16. ^ Kan, Athena (2016-10-27). "Hacking Harvard open data to fight crime, save energy, and improve student life". Medium. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  17. ^ Chappellet-Lanier, Tajha (August 1, 2017). "Demand for the first edition of Coding it Forward's Civic Digital Fellowship surprises even the founders". FedScoop. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  18. ^ Chappellet-Lanier, Tajha (July 3, 2018). "Here's what year two of Coding it Forward's Civic Digital Fellowship looks like". FedScoop. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  19. ^ Partners 2018 (, Insight Venture. "Team". Insight Venture Partners. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  20. ^ Cooper, Laura (July 18, 2018). "Insight Venture Partners Raises $6.3 Billion for 10th Fund". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  21. ^ Partners 2018 (, Insight Venture (2018-07-19). "Software Investor Insight Venture Partners Closes $6.3 Billion Fund X | News & Press". Insight Venture Partners. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  22. ^ Partners 2018 (, Insight Venture (2018-07-19). "Software Investor Insight Venture Partners Closes $6.3 Billion Fund X | News & Press". Insight Venture Partners. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  23. ^ Partners, Insight Venture. "U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Nick Sinai Joins Insight Venture Partners". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  24. ^ "BrightBytes raises $33M to help schools everywhere gauge the impact of technology in classrooms". VentureBeat. 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  25. ^ BusinessWire, Virgin Pulse Closes $92 Million Investment from Insight Venture Partners, retrieved 2018-12-18
  26. ^ "Recorded Future Raises $25M to Keep Tabs on the Dark Web". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  27. ^ NYU project touts 500 top open-data firms
  28. ^ White House hails new study on open data
  29. ^ Could research data be lost soon?
  30. ^ Aspen Institute FOCS Participants
  31. ^ Panelists talk tech, say government can get it right
  32. ^ Politico Outside, In Launch Event
  33. ^ G8 World Bank Open Data for Agriculture Agenda
  34. ^ Ideas Lab Open Data: Power to People, Projects and Prosperity
  35. ^ Shorenstein Center: Data as Infrastructure
  36. ^ White House: Open Data Round Up
  37. ^ Information Week: White House Launches More Open Data Initiatives
  38. ^ FedTech Magazine: Open Data: An Interview with U.S. Deputy CTO Nick Sinai
  39. ^ NextGov: Why Can't Government Websites Be More Like Amazon?
  40. ^ Nick Sinai Github: G8 Metadata Mapping
  41. ^ White House: Big Data, Open Data, and Federal Agencies
  42. ^ Leading Pharmacies and Retailers Join Blue Button Initiative
  43. ^ Green Button Q&A with Nick Sinai of the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP)
  44. ^ White House Interview on the New Open Data Policy
  45. ^ White House Open Government Initiative Archived 2014-12-17 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ United States Releases Its Second Open Government Plan
  47. ^
  48. ^ 18F: A New Look at the Freedom of Information Act
  49. ^ Open Government Partnership
  50. ^ White House: Celebrating Open Government Around the Globe
  51. ^ Reuters: Obama at U.N. pledges steps to more open government
  52. ^ U.S. Deputy CTO Looking for a Few Good Data Fellows
  53. ^ White House: Presidential Innovation Fellows Projects
  54. ^ Mitchell, Billy (January 24, 2017). "USDS = taxpayer value, former White House deputy CTO says". FedScoop. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  55. ^ Goldstein, Phil Goldstein (2017-03-15). "What Is the Future of the U.S. Digital Service?". FedTech. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  56. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (2017-01-27). "The Mad Dash to Pass President Obama's Last Law---and Keep Technology at Work in Washington". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  57. ^ White House: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future
  58. ^ White House: Taking Action for a Stronger, Smarter, Cleaner Electric Grid
  59. ^ White House: ConnectED Initiative
  60. ^ Harvard Kennedy School: Aneesh Chopra and Nick Sinai Announced as Inaugural Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellows
  61. ^ National Broadband Plan
  62. ^ Smart Grid Innovations in the National Broadband Plan
  63. ^ National Broadband Plan Crucial For 'Smart' Power Grids
  64. ^ FCC Broadband Plan Goal: Use Broadband to Manage Energy Consumption
  65. ^ Markey, Edward J. "H.R. 5696". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  66. ^ "National Broadband Plan". Federal Communications Commission. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  67. ^ Wired: White House Backs Cities That Want to Build Their Own Super-Speed Internet
  68. ^ Re/Code: White House Says U.S. Broadband Market Needs More Competition
  69. ^ a b Polaris Senior Associate and Greenfuel VP Nick Sinai Joining Lehman Brothers Venture Arm in Boston
  70. ^ Austin, Scott (2009-06-30). "LogMeIn's IPO Prices At $16/Share As Second Quarter Closes". WSJ. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  71. ^ Association for Federal Information Resources Management March Monthly Luncheon
  72. ^ Fedscoop Top Federal IT Folks Under 40
  73. ^ FCW Fed 100
  74. ^ The Movers and Shakers of the Smart Grid
  75. ^ FedScoop 50: Celebrating 2014's leaders in federal IT
  76. ^ Federal Communications Commission. "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan" (PDF). Retrieved December 18, 2018.