The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced this week the establishment of the U.S. Digital Service. OMB called this initiative a key component of efforts to improve and simplify the government’s delivery of services through information technology (IT).
This initiative follows on the successful efforts last fall by a group of IT experts brought into government to fix the HealthCare.gov. website.
According to a blog posted on the OMB website, “the Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.”
The first administrator of the Digital Service will be Mikey Dickerson, who was an integral part of the group that worked to fix HealthCare.com. Dickerson, a former Google site reliability engineer, will also become the Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer. He has described himself not as a policy expert but as one who knows “how to make big distributed systems work technically.”
The new team expects to hire people who “have talent and expertise in a variety of disciplines, including procurement, human resources, and finance.”
OMB expects the Digital Service to achieve its mission by: 1) establishing standards to align the government’s digital services with best in the private sector; 2) identifying common technology patterns to scale services effectively; 3) collaborating with agencies to fix gaps in their ability to design, develop, deploy, and operate top-notch customer interface services; and 4) to provide accountability to ensure results.
Concurrent with this announcement, OMB released two critical components of the IT toolkit to support the work of the Digital Service. The Digital Services Playbook will guide leveraging private-sector best practices and the TechFAR Handbook will help ensure agencies get the right technical tools to buy digital services consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
OMB will fund the Digital Team in FY2014 with existing funds and “will scale in 2015 as outlined in the President’s FY 2015 Budget.”