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White House unveils Digital Service team to improve agency websites

Aug. 11, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
OMB Nomination Hearing MWM 20131002
The digital experts who turned around Healthcare.gov inspired the creation of the U.S. Digital Service, according to a White House blog post by OMB's Beth Cobert, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. (Mike Morones)

A new White House-sponsored team of the country’s brightest digital talent will work with agencies to help make federal websites more user-friendly, according to an administration announcement Aug. 11.

Office of Management and Budget’s Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and federal CTO Todd Park wrote in a blog post that the turnaround of Healthcare.gov by a team of digital experts inspired the creation of the U.S. Digital Service.

The roll out of Healthcare.gov on Oct. 1, 2013 was marked by site failures, crashes and a clunky user interface that made signing up for health insurance nearly impossible for days.

“The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government,” they wrote.

Mikey Dickerson, an engineer from contractor QSSI who played an integral role in revamping Healthcare.gov, will become the first administrator of the Digital Service.

“The Digital Service team will take private and public-sector best practices and help scale them across agencies — always with a focus on the customer experience in mind,” they wrote in the blog post.

The administration also released a “Digital Services Playbook” that lays out best practices for agencies building websites and mobile applications and a “TechFAR Handbook” which showcases tips and methods for agency procurement officials to develop agile programs quickly inside the acquisition process.

“And as technology continues to evolve, we will continue to look for ways we can strengthen our efforts along with it — to make sure we’re applying new and innovative tools as we continue working to expand opportunity for the American people,” they wrote.

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