Finally the Government Has an IT Strategy Team

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 12 2014 12:41 PM

The Government Finally Has an IT Strategy Team

playbook
Some of these sound like absurdly simple goals, but that's just where USDS needs to start.

Image from the USDS Playbook.

As we all learned from the healthcare.gov debacle, the U.S. government is lousy at implementing technology solutions. Federal agencies are huge, they have complicated IT and contractor requirements, and money is tight. But also there just isn’t too much tech expertise floating around. The White House wants to change that.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

On Monday, the Obama administration announced the creation of the U.S. Digital Service. Led by former Google engineer and healthcare.gov savior Mikey Dickerson, the group will work to reduce inefficiencies and help agencies establish better IT practices. The major goal is to keep a failure like the healthcare.gov launch from happening again.

Advertisement
The Digital Service will work to find solutions to management challenges that can prevent progress in IT delivery. To do this, we will build a team of more than just a group of tech experts – Digital Service hires will have talent and expertise in a variety of disciplines, including procurement, human resources, and finance. The Digital Service team will take private and public-sector best practices and help scale them across agencies – always with a focus on the customer experience in mind.

This year USDS will be paid for as a pilot program, but it will get bigger with an allocation from the government’s 2015 budget. The big focus will be on improving externally facing interfaces that an individual might interact with, but the group will also consult on internal systems within different agencies.

A similar IT group called 18F recently launched within the General Services Administration. But according to the Washington Post, federal chief information officer Steve VanRoekel says that the 18F group will often be the one actually going in to fix code within agencies, whereas USDS will mostly be looking at practices and potential macro changes. “Think of [USDS] as management consultants that helps you understand your gaps,” he told the Post.

USDS will need adequate funding, the right people, and time to actually do anything, but in the tech desert that is the federal government, pretty much any steps in the right direction will make a big difference.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.