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Exclusive: Facebook Engineering Director Is Headed to the White House

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

David Recordon (Photo: Brian Solis/Wikipedia).

The White House just added another Silicon Valley veteran to its growing roster of tech experts.

This afternoon, President Barack Obama will announce a newly created position for David Recordon, who has worked as one of Facebook’s engineering directors since 2009. Recordon will join the White House as the director of information technology, perhaps the most glorified IT position in history.

Recordon, according to a statement from the White House, will “ensure that the technology utilized by the White House is efficient, effective, and secure.” He’ll lead the effort to merge any overlapping systems and ensure that the government’s software is up-to-date and just as secure as software in the private sector.

Recordon’s appointment is part of a recent effort by the Obama administration to grow its dedicated tech staff. Last year, the president launched the U.S. Digital Service, hiring former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson to lead it. Dickerson played a fundamental role on the team that rescued HealthCare.gov after its catastrophic launch in 2013. His hiring signaled a new focus on remodeling the government’s digital presence. The USDS team, as Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel said in 2014, is tasked with “removing barriers to exceptional Government service delivery and remaking the digital experiences that citizens and businesses have with their Government.”

Along with Dickerson, Recordon joins a growing cadre of D.C. techies who’ve been plucked from America’s most successful Internet companies. In September 2014, Obama named Megan Smith — former vice president of Google’s research lab — as his new chief technology officer and former Twitter general counsel Alexander Macgillivray as her deputy. In February, he created a new position with a wordy title — chief data scientist and deputy chief technology officer for data policy — for D.J. Patil, who had previously worked for such companies as LinkedIn, eBay, and Skype.

Recordon studied information technology and criminal justice at the Rochester Institute of Technology but dropped out in 2006 to work as an engineer at a number of startups, including Verisign and Six Apart. As a longtime advocate of open source — an online model that allows free access to websites’ source code — Recordon was awarded the Google-O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2007. He’s an advocate for technologies such as OpenID, an online authentication technology that allows you to log in to multiple websites with the same secure ID.

At Facebook, he helped create internal productivity tools for his colleagues, including technology that aided the company’s human resources, videoconferencing, and security efforts. He also supervised projects related to open source and engineering education.

At the White house, in front of the president’s podium (Photo: Via Facebook)

After a visit to the White House in March 2014, during which he took a selfie in front of the podium in the room where the president gives press conferences, Recordon hinted at his growing involvement with the U.S. Digital Service.

“In silicon valley we talk about ‘impact’ all of the time,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Aug. 21, 2014. “I’m writing this while I lay at home on my couch doing laundry when there are multiple startups who would happily come pick it up and do it for me with nothing more than a few taps on my iPhone 5S. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of absolutely serious companies who truly impact lives on a daily basis but the United States government serves all of us in ways the venture capital fueled valley does not. … While I’m not planning to move to DC or to go work for the government,” he concluded, “I hope to continue finding ways to help these teams learn how to build high-quality technology.”

Judging from the Lego model of the White House that he posted on his Facebook page earlier this month, he’s changed his mind about the move.

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