Hey, remember that time the U.S. government launched a website and it was a disaster and it didn't work? I'm not just taking about HealthCare.gov, there are actually a whole host of horrible government websites out there. Now a new department will be making sure the U.S.'s websites don't give the country nightmares anymore.
Although it has been talked about for months, the new U.S. Digital Service (which you can call the USDS) is launching today, headed by Mikey Dickerson, the former Google engineer widely credited with fixing HealthCare.gov. According to an announcement back in May, the USDS will include about 25 people consisting of the "country's brightest digital talent " who will be in charge of "remaking the digital experiences that citizens and businesses have with their Government."
The government already has its own in-house web development team named 18F, but it looks like the USDS will be involved more on a strategic level, fixing intrinsic problems long before a site launches. For a preview at what they'll do, you can check out the USDS "playbook" which includes, in their words, "successful best practices from the private sector and government that, if followed together, will help government build effective digital services." In short, making the government's websites just a little more like the normal sites you use every day.
We've called before for a more tech-centric approach to the way the Obama administration handles just about everything. While this isn't exactly the "digital core" seen in some other countries, it certainly is a great first step. The first thing I'd like to see them tackle is the way we file and pay taxes. But there will definitely be plenty to keep them busy. [Washington Post]
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