Illustrated U.S. Capitol

The U.S. Digital Service

Report to Congress

December 2016

In August 2014, the United States Digital Service (USDS) was created to improve the Federal Government’s most important public-facing digital services. USDS is a collaboration between some of the country’s top technical talent and the government’s brightest civil servants, who work in partnership to apply private sector best practices to our digital services.

Initially, USDS’ small team of technologists planned to focus on three projects. Additional funding and the support of Congress for the Information and Technology Oversight and Reform (ITOR) Fund in the 2015 and 2016 Fiscal Year appropriations bills allowed USDS to invest in a greater number of high-priority projects, detailed in this report. Of the $30M appropriated in the 2016 fiscal year, $14M was apportioned to USDS to support its operations, with the balance of the $30M supporting other IT oversight and reform activities. At its creation, USDS was administratively placed within the Office of the Federal CIO. After more than two years of operations, however, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has decided to move the Administrator of USDS to directly report to the Deputy Director of Management (DDM).

USDS staff in OMB work alongside agency Digital Service team staff to support high-priority projects in agencies including the Departments of Veterans Affairs, State, Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Defense, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Small Business Administration.

The central focus of USDS is on the measurable improvement of the performance and cost-effectiveness of important, public-facing Federal Government digital services – via the application of modern technology best practices. To execute this mission, USDS conducts hands-on engagements with agencies.

In support of its core mission of improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of important government digital services, the USDS engages in three additional activities:

  • Rethink how we build and buy digital services. USDS is working on modernizing procurement processes and practices for the modern digital era. Our partners in the IT contracting community are a critical element of modernizing our government, as skilled contractors deliver the majority of the government’s digital services.
  • Expand the use of common platforms, services and tools. USDS is working with agencies to identify and implement shared tools and services to address common technical issues and usability challenges across the Federal Government. One example is building Login.gov, a universal login system that will enable the American public to access multiple government agency services with one, streamlined account.
  • Bring top technical talent into public service. In support of these goals, USDS has recruited and placed over 200 Digital Service Experts, from one of the most competitive industries in the world, to join the government for term-limited tours of duty with the USDS and work with civil servants inside agencies. The long-term goal is to encourage a tradition of public service in the tech industry that will support the ongoing improvement of government digital services.

USDS has developed procedures and criteria for prioritizing projects, which includes obtaining input from OMB’s IT Dashboard, agency leadership, and relevant U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports. To prioritize projects, USDS also uses the following three criteria, which are listed in their order of importance:

  1. What will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people in the greatest need?
  2. How effective and cost-efficient will the USDS investment be?
  3. What potential exists to use or reuse a technological solution across the Federal Government?

Along with its investment in the ITOR Fund, Congress asked USDS to provide a regular update on progress in each of its programs. This report details that progress.

Mikey Dickerson
Administrator, U.S. Digital Service

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