The president's 2016 budget proposal includes a funding bump for the U.S. Digital Service and more than $100 million to expand its work to more agencies.
The president's budget — released Feb. 2 — includes $105 million to "scale and institutionalize" the Digital Service by creating branches in 25 more federal agencies. (The program will begin with the agencies covered by the CFO Act, minus the Department of Defense.)
The new teams would help "federal agencies on their high impact, citizen-facing programs to improve how citizens and businesses experience government services," OMB said in a fact sheet released Monday.
"We launched last August with a small team and expected to dedicate ourselves to just a handful of the highest-priority projects," said USDS Administrator Mikey Dickerson.
The Digital Service's successes on Healthcare.gov, the Veterans Affairs management system and E-Verify, part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, spurred the administration to expand the program.
The $105 million in funding will be used to hire some 500 professionals to be spread across the federal government, keeping teams to an average of 20 people.
How these new teams will interact within the existing CIO and CTO structures at each agency has yet to be worked out and will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to Dickerson.
In a call with reporters Monday, Dickerson said he expected to face two major challenges when launching the Digital Service: whether agencies would be receptive and whether top talent would be interested in working for the government.
"The first challenge was not a problem at all. Virtually every agency we talked is very interested in the kinds of people that we are able to bring to help them out," he said. "The demand was off the charts."
Surprisingly, the pool of talented IT professionals willing to come to the public sector is deep, as well.
"There's more supply than we expected," Dickerson said, noting the current team is made up of tech experts with pedigrees that include Google, Amazon and Twitter. "We needed to connect the talent with the demand. This budget … was the most laser-focused way we could come up with to do that."
The original Digital Service team would also get more funding under the president's plan. The 2016 proposal includes $35.2 million under IT Oversight and Reform set aside for what will become the "central USDS team."
That number increased more than 75 percent over 2015 levels.
The OMB USDS would take on a new role as the lead digital service, helping to build out the new teams at other agencies and tracking IT spending and procurement to increase oversight and improve efficiencies.
The team would also work to improve cybersecurity across the federal space.
Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.