Digital Services

Dickerson to Congress: USDS is delivering results

US Digital Service 

The administrator of the U.S. Digital Service told Congress that his group had given the federal government significant bang for the taxpayer buck by hammering out digitally savvy solutions for chronic or confounding federal IT problems.

In a report submitted to Congress on USDS activity during 2016, Administrator Mikey Dickerson said $14 million of the $30 million appropriated went to support the service, while the balance went into supporting other federal IT oversight and reform efforts.

According to Dickerson, the two-year-old service, which was created to help clean up the faltering HealthCare.gov resource, has since brought digitally oriented thinking to a long list of projects that have stymied traditional IT solutions.

Among Dickerson's list of top USDS achievements in 2016 were the continuing modernization of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Electronic Immigration System, which began in 2014, and the group’s work at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dickerson said that as of September 2016, 25 percent of immigration transactions applications are processed with USCIS’ revamped system, including the I-90 green card renewal application.

Over the summer, Dickerson said USDS’ team at the VA helped launch that agency’s paperless appeals tool and simplified veterans-facing services through the Vets.gov website.

The service also helped the IRS roll out its Secure Access capabilities in June, a service that uses strong identity proofing and two-factor authentication to better protect tax records.

USDS’ central focus, Dickerson told Congress, is making “measurable improvement of the performance and cost-effectiveness of important, public-facing federal government digital services” by applying modern tech best practices combined with a “hands-on engagement” with agencies.

The service is also helping government rethink how it builds and buys digital services by modernizing procurement processes and practices with a digital-era edge. It is also pushing for common platforms, services and tools across the federal government and is bringing in top tech talent from the commercial side.

So far, Dickerson said, the service has recruited and placed over 200 “digital service experts” from hotly competitive commercial markets into limited “tours of duty” with civil servants inside agencies.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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