Help Wanted: Geek squad for the Feds

For a lot of folks, the problems encountered when Healtcare.gov was rolled out went way beyond one-off hair on fire catastrophes. But that experience taught its creators that being prepared means having backup help ready to go.

The U.S. Digital Service seeks to provide that kind of backup, but as a critical part of our infrastructure, not just on an “emergency-only pull together a task force for a specific purpose” basis.

The U.S. Digital Service is using the best of product design and engineering practices to transform the way government works for the American people. In every corner of government, we join forces with the many passionate and talented tech professionals within agencies who are dedicated to public service. Together, teams of America’s most capable problem solvers are striving to make critical services — like healthcare, student loans, and Veterans’ benefits — as simple as buying a book online.

And they’re looking for more than just a few good men and women:

We’re looking for doers and makers, creative thinkers, and specialized technologists. We need designers and writers, engineers and product managers, researchers and procurement experts committed to untangling, rewiring, and redesigning our government. We need America’s most dedicated problem solvers – if that’s you, tell us about yourself.

So, what will this $105 million plan (if fully funded by Congress) that hopes to place approximately 500 tech specialists across government, accomplish? From the federal technology publication, FCW:

Digital services’ role “will stop when we get you to minimally viable project,” Kruger said. The team can help define user needs, build in analytics, wireframe the user experience, deploy and test alpha and beta versions, and generally tune and refine a service to ensure it can serve the intended purpose. “When we’re happy with that, we’ll hand it back to the business unit, and they’ll own it — to maintain it, to make improvements over time.”

A $105 million budget in a U.S. budget of $4 TRILLION is miniscule (and a tiny part of the federal government IT’s overall budget of $86 billion). But then the entire annual budget for the state of Ohio is around $70 billion. One would think this federal geek squad should be doable – and prioritized.

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