Workforce

GSA launches new Digital Corps to attract early-career techies

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On Monday, the Biden administration announced the creation of a new, two-year fellowship for early career technologists – the U.S. Digital Corps.

Set to launch this fall with 30 fellows, the program is meant to bring early-career workers with skills in software engineering, data science, design and cybersecurity into the federal government.

The Digital Corps is a joint effort between the General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that'll be housed in GSA's Technology Transformation Services (TTS).

"One of my priorities is building a pipeline of diverse talent to GSA and recruiting the next generation of public servants," said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan in a statement about the new program. "The Digital Corps fellowship offers technologists just starting out in their career the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges that we face and develop innovative solutions that make government work better for the American people."

The program's first class will work the administration's priorities for pandemic response, the economy, cybersecurity and streamlining government services, according to GSA's announcement.

Agency hosts for this first class will include GSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others.

The Digital Corps is meant to complement other fellowships like the Presidential Innovation Fellows, the U.S. Digital Service and the Presidential Management Fellows, according to GSA's announcement of the program.

The program's own website pitches the corps as a "grass roots effort."

"The idea for a Digital Corps was sparked by technologists across government who identified a gap in the federal government's journey towards digital success — a lack of early‑career technology talent," it says. "TTS recognized the need for entry‑level technologists to not only bring immediate innovation but also to serve as a continuing resource for government digital transformation. These technologists would help complement the civic technology efforts already underway by organizations like TTS while bringing in fresh perspectives."

Recruiting efforts for the first class will focus not only on undergraduate programs but also alternative training programs like apprenticeships and certificate programs.

Federal CIO Clare Martorana said the program will help agencies fill critical talent gaps.

"To provide best-in-class service delivery, agencies must have the right combination of workforce talent in place as their existing personnel accelerate towards retirement. The U.S. Digital Corps is a forward-looking solution that will build a deep bench for technology modernization and digital transformation across the federal government and meet the Biden Administration's goals of advancing federal IT and cybersecurity," she said.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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