February 23, 2018

Brian Chung (MPA ’07)

Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. Government Accountability Office

Maybe it was inevitable that Brian Chung (’07) would join the Government Accountability Office, which investigates how the federal government operates across all sectors. A good investigator, after all, must quickly become familiar with numerous subjects in order to be an effective watchdog.  And Brian’s career, even before he earned his Evans School MPA, had led him across a couple of industries and continents.

After graduating from the University of Texas-Austin, the Houston native returned to his hometown to work in marketing for a medical-equipment company. He then volunteered for the Peace Corps, which sent him to Slovakia for two years. Upon his return to the United States, he and his future wife decided to move to Seattle, where he found a development position with the United Way of King County. There, he learned about one of the area’s academic jewels.  

“The Evans School was well-known by many at United Way for being the place to learn about public service,” said Brian, “and I wanted to serve.”

He soon began an intense three-year concurrent program at the Evans School and the UW’s Jackson School of International Studies.

The multidisciplinary aspect of the Evans School courses that attracted Brian extended to his out-of-class experience in graduate school. He was a graduate assistant for the Marc Lindenberg Center for Humanitarian Action, International Development, and Global Citizenship; an assistant in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program; an intern for the GAO; and a fellow in Senator Patty Murray’s Washington, D.C., office. Brian worked for the senator’s staff director on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, another opportunity to multi-task.

“I wasn’t exactly sure where I was headed afterward,” he said, “but I always kept in mind that you don’t know what you don’t know, and the diversity of experiences and opportunities in the MPA program definitely helped me expand my knowledge and define my next step.”

In 2007, after graduation, Brian accepted a position with the GAO (in downtown Seattle’s tallest skyscraper, Columbia Center), where his all-around approach and training continue to serve him well.

“We’re hired on as generalists,” Brian explained, “and it’s reinforced from the first day.”

The GAO’s professional development program is a two-year process during which new analysts rotate among teams. Brian worked for the physical infrastructure, defense and homeland security teams during his probationary period.

Three years ago, Brian became an infrastructure project manager. He supervises research teams composed of analysts and technical experts whose findings help inform policymakers’ decisions regarding highways, bridges, maritime infrastructure, federal facilities, and aviation.  

“I started my infrastructure rotation soon after the Minneapolis Bridge collapsed,” Brian recalled, “so I saw firsthand the importance of maintaining infrastructure.”

In the wake of the Great Recession, both elected officials and the citizenry have an especially keen interest in ensuring that government operations are well-run. Fortunately, the Evans School MPA imparts smart analysis, efficient management, and a collaborative approach. Brian utilizes all three aspects to lead his team and help maintain the country’s infrastructure. He remains involved with the Evans School, as well, through his service on the Denny Alumni Council.

“Making change is a process,” Brian said. “At an institutional level, we need to have people willing to do the work. The Evans School MPA prepared me to do the work that facilitates change for the public good.”