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GAO Names New Chief Scientist

WASHINGTON (December 4, 2023) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today announced Sterling Thomas, PhD as the agency’s new Chief Scientist. Sterling joins GAO as an accomplished research scientist and business executive, having held positions that have given him extensive knowledge across academia, government, and the private sector. As Chief Scientist, Sterling will help lead GAO’s science and technology work, most notably the work conducted by GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team, which provides Congress with foresight, oversight, and insight on the most pressing science and technology issues. The team assesses emerging and evolving technologies, evaluates their application in government, and examines their impact on society.

“We’re fortunate to have Sterling join us in furthering our mission to help Congress oversee the substantial federal investment in science and technology and stay apprised of emerging opportunities and challenges,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, and head of the GAO. “Sterling brings a wealth of knowledge and experience across these fields that will add great value to our accelerating body of science and technology related work.”

Prior to joining GAO, Sterling was Chief Scientist at Noblis, a nonprofit research institute. He managed the institute’s applied research programs and conducted his own research projects, which included creating new methods for synthetic biology and methods for using artificial intelligence to detect sophisticated cyberattacks. Sterling also served as a principal investigator where his research was funded by the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and other intelligence community partners.

Sterling earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Life Sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master’s in business administration from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Science from Old Dominion University. He holds four patents for inventions related to analysis of genetic sequences without assembling, detecting low signals in high noise environments, and machine learning. He also has multiple other patent applications pending.

Meet our new Chief Scientist by listening to this podcast:

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of GAO Public Affairs at or 202-512-4800.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.



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