White House Launches Digital Service


The White House has launched the Digital Service, which will serve as a small decentralized army of IT professionals tasked with manning the government’s IT challenges. According to a blog post announcing the Service from the White House, the group will be tasked with working with government agencies to remove impediments to service delivery.

The Digital Service grew out of the group tasked with doing triage and emergency response on Healthcare.gov. That site, which presented significant errors on launch punctuated the government’s troubled relationship with CGI Federal and led to the company’s eventual firing. From that, Accenture and a coalition of IT professionals worked through the errors eventually restoring service.

The group will start its pilot this year with existing funds and is included as part of the President’s FY2015 budget, although obviously, the viability of mission critical elements or a budget at all is an open question.

The Digital Service will also collaborate closely with 18F, a new unit of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). GSA’s 18F represents a group of developers and digital professionals who are designing and building the actual digital platforms and providing services across the government.

The administration is also asking for public comments on two IT focused handbooks – Digital Services Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook. These handbooks are tasked with training public employees on best practices in technology, as well as, technology procurement that falls in-line with Federal Acquisition Rules (FAR).