Fantastic article by Jon Gertner at Fast Company. This is a huge and worthwhile effort that can have a big impact. Anyone who has ever had to work with government websites will immediately see the appeal of this effort. Not to mention those who actually work inside of government agencies.
Their purpose is to remake the digital systems by which government operates, to implement the kind of efficiency and agility and effectiveness that define Silicon Valley’s biggest successes, across everything from the IRS to Immigration Services. “We’ve got about 140 people in the network right now,” Park says of the digital team. “The goal is to get it to about 500 by the end of 2016.”
Here’s how they are organized:
Park tends to describe the new tech corps as a “three-layer cake.” USDS is the first layer—a group of technologists who strategize about what projects should become government priorities and which people should work on them. The second layer is 18F—a group of 90 technologists and designers who work within the General Services Administration a few blocks away. 18F takes its name from its address (the GSA building is at 18th and F Streets) and has informal ties to USDS, but it is essentially a service agency. The group can take on jobs from anywhere within government that’s in need of digital help. Unlike USDS, it doesn’t necessarily follow the president’s political priorities.
And the third layer? That would be the tech teams, ranging in size from five people to 50, that will be installed within 25 government agencies over the course of the next 18 months. These teams will consult regularly with USDS for guidance and may utilize 18F for its services.
Good luck to 18F, US Digital Service and the tech teams! The country needs your help!