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Craig Martell, DOD Chief Digital & Artificial Intelligence Officer, Joins Distinguished Leaders in 2023 Wash100 for Data and AI Strategy Leadership

Executive Mosaic is honored to unveil Craig Martell, chief digital and artificial intelligence officer of the Department of Defense, as the latest member of the 2023 Wash100 in recognition of his leadership over DOD’s AI adoption and enterprise data management initiatives. Martell is a first-time selection to the prestigious roster of 100 esteemed leaders that demonstrated a notable impact on government contracting activity.

“Whoever wins AI wins it all. In order to have a plan to take you across the future opportunity, you have to have someone who knows how to read the landscape of artificial intelligence,” commented Jim Garrettson, CEO of Executive Mosaic and creator of the Wash100 Award. “In this critically important battle, there is no substitute for experience, and experience is what Craig Martell brings, along with his ability to read a map of our collective future,” Garrettson added.

DOD established its Office of the CDAO in February 2022, and two months later, Martell took over for acting CDAO John Sherman, a two-time Wash100 awardee who has served as the department’s chief information officer since Dec. 17, 2021.

In his first few months in office, Martell saw the need to prioritize driving high quality data. “[We] originally thought our job … was to produce tools for those in the government to do modeling. We no longer think that’s the case,” he said at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems Worldwide Conference in December.

“We have massive amounts of data … distributed all over the world. Some portion of that data is going to be really effective for decision making at scale and other parts of that data is going to be totally ineffective for decision making. And so a large part of our job is figuring out the ways to manage that data, so that the data that’s effective for decision making is front and center for decision makers when they need it.”

During his transition to office, CDAO reached full operating capability status in less than six months by consolidating the offices of the Chief Data Officer, Defense Digital Service, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and DOD’s Advancing Analytics platform.

At the Virtual Department of Defense Digital and AI Symposium, DOD CIO John Sherman, who was acting CDAO at the time, commended Martell and his team for helping advance the unit from initial operating capability to FOC. The CIO and CDAO continue to collaborate in strengthening the DOD’s digital IT structure.

“One of the things I’d like for us to be thinking about pretty strongly is how do we convince other folks to come in from industry for a tour of duty? This is going to be a tour of duty for me,” Martell told Sherman.

“How do we create a marketplace for startups, for medium-size, for small businesses? Because particularly in the AI space and I’m sure in many other spaces as well, there’s a lot of innovation happening in two-person shops or five-person shops.”

Prior to his CDAO appointment in April 2022, Martell served as head of machine learning at rideshare company Lyft. He previously worked at file hosting service provider Dropbox as head of machine intelligence and oversaw AI programs during his five-year tenure at LinkedIn.

Martell taught computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School and led research at the institution’s Natural Language Processing Laboratory, which provided DOD with social media analysis tools developed from machine learning algorithms.

Executive Mosaic congratulates Craig Martell and the CDAO team for their selection to receive the 2023 Wash100 Award. We are eager to see how more of his contributions to AI implementation will impact the GovCon industry.

Visit Wash100.com to cast 10 votes for this year’s Popular Vote ranking of awardees.

Committed to sharing his knowledge and ideas to push AI adoption forward, Craig Martell will deliver keynote remarks for the Potomac Officers Club’s 4th Annual Artificial Intelligence Summit, an in-person event scheduled to take place Feb. 16 at the Hilton-McLean in Virginia.

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