A newly formed federal team called the U.S. Digital Service will help governmental agencies learn from the way modern tech companies develop, roll out and run large technology projects.
The initiative was announced this week in Washington, D.C., by Steven VanRoekel, the U.S. chief information officer, who worked for many years at Microsoft, including a stint as Bill Gates’ strategy assistant.
The U.S. Digital Service will be led by Mikey Dickerson, the longtime Google engineer who was originally brought in as part of the team charged with fixing HealthCare.gov. Dickerson will report to VanRoekel.
The initiative represents “a new capacity within government to deliver world-class, citizen-facing services using these modern techniques and approaches,” VanRoekel explained in an interview with GeekWire, during a recent visit to Seattle.
VanRoekel said the group will act as a consulting arm, working with federal agencies to bring them up to speed with the way these types of projects work in the tech sector. The U.S. Digital Service will be recruiting and working with tech veterans to help bring a “customer-focused” approach to government services.
“We like to think of it as the hottest new startup in the country,” VanRoekel told us, working on his recruiting pitch. “We were founded in 1776. There’s monuments erected to our founders. We’re a pretty cool startup.”
The initiative includes a Digital Services Playbook with best practices for web and mobile apps and other online services, plus an accompanying handbook designed to help agencies implement the “plays” outlined in the playbook.