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How 18F and USDS are driving digital transformation

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How 18F and USDS are driving digital transformation

What is 18F?

In 2014, a group of Presidential Innovation Fellows — a program managed by the General Services Administration — started 18F as a way to expand their efforts to help modernize Federal technology beyond their one-year fellowships.

18F, which is also part of the GSA, “partners with agencies to improve the user experience of government services by helping them build and buy technology,” says acting executive director Joe Krzystan.

“Our teams’ expertise spans engineering, product, content specialists, account management, service designers, visual and product designers, user researchers, acquisition consultants, and more. .”

The 18F program combines this expertise into cross-functional teams that work with agency partners “to perform discovery, refine their digital product goals, create prototypes, navigate procurement to hire and manage vendors, onboard with Technology Transformation Services’ shared services and deploy secure, compliant technology that meets the needs of the people who use it,” says Krzystan.

READ MORE: Find out how agencies can contribute to the cultural change associated with IT modernization.

Beyond solving ad hoc problems, 18F seeks to help agencies develop their internal IT capabilities. “In each of our projects, our teams work to build the capacity of our partners to deliver agile digital services, so that they are able to continue to iterate and improve after our collaboration ends,” says Krzystan. .

Industry experts say the 18F effort can help leverage private sector expertise to support complex government IT projects.

“You can think of them as a ‘special forces’ version of a major private sector consulting firm. If you only need one or two people, this might be the quickest way for you to tap into that expertise,” says Tom Suder, Founder and President of the Center for University Research in Advanced Technology (ATARC).

What is USD?

A part of the Office of Management and Budgetthe US Digital Service was born after original version of Healthcare.gov collapsed.

The original website “was broken; too successful and the architecture was horrible,” says Suder. “So the administration brought in some experts and they started fixing things. The USDS grew out of that. The thinking was, ‘Where can we put this elite team on the administration’s priorities? , generally with regard to citizens?’ »

“They continue to be very focused on the administration’s priorities,” he adds.

The overall mission of USDS today “is to use technology and design to address the federal government’s most pressing technical challenges,” says Deputy Administrator Cori Zarek.

DIVE DEEPER: Federal agencies must work together to achieve IT modernization success.

“We work in small teams and we deploy across government to support the delivery of digital services that complete the public lifecycle, such as applying for Social Security and unemployment benefits, helping families access vaccines and food, or making it easier for veterans to access health, housing, and retirement benefits. education,” says Zarek.

As an organization within the White House that is part of the President’s Executive Office, USDS focuses on “responding to an administration’s executive priorities,” says Zarek. “An example of our collaboration with several federal agencies, including 18F, was to launch COVID.govwhich allowed the public to receive COVID tests by mail at home.

Furthermore, “we have supported the development of various units within the agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Medicare and Medicaid Service Centerswhere some of our alumni lead dedicated digital service teams, enabling continuous improvement of government services for the people they serve,” says Zarek.