White House taps Facebook alum to be first director of product

White House taps Facebook alum to be first director of product
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The White House has hired a Facebook employee to serve as its first director of product, a new position focusing on software like the "We The People" petition site.

Josh Miller, who announced the job move on his personal website, said that he expects to build off the White House’s existing digital efforts.

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“The White House has many digital products — from WhiteHouse.gov to the We the People Petition site,” he said. “It’s a dream to be able to add to and improve this portfolio.

“These initiatives represent amazing progress, and there's so much more good work to be done,” he continued. “I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in the technology industry to the ideals of our democracy.”

The White House gig is not Miller's first in Washington. He interned in a Senate office while he was in college, but said he was frustrated by the office's limited technological capabilities.

Miller dropped out of Princeton University to found Branch, a startup that focused on building tools for link sharing and fostering civil online conversation. The company was ultimately acquired by Facebook in 2014 and Branch’s team began working on projects at the social network.

His White House hire is just the latest move by the Obama administration to bring experienced engineers and managers from tech companies into the federal government. President Obama tapped Megan Smith, a former Google executive, to be the nation’s chief technology officer in September 2014.

The administration has also looked to build a pipeline from the tech world through the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Many former fellows work at 18F, a consultancy within the General Services Administration.