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GSA Announces New Governmentwide Tech Unit That Will House 18F

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth // General Services Administration

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the total number of employees to be housed in the new office. The article has been corrected and updated. 

The General Services Administration announced today it’s standing up a new technology unit to expand the work of its in-house digital startup, 18F.

Called the Technology Transformation Service, the new unit aims to help other federal agencies take advantage of emerging technology and transition to more modern approaches to developing digital services, GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth said in an agency blog post announcing the move.

The new unit will absorb the programs and services previously offered by 18F, the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. They will all become offices in the new service, which will house a total of 293 employees, according to a GSA spokeswoman.

“The Technology Transformation Service is the ‘launchpad’ to set us up for the next big expedition for the federal government in technology,” Roth said in the blog post. “We have to create a smart government that provides seamless experiences designed for the user first. Creating the Technology Transformation Service builds a great foundation for the federal government’s modernization efforts.”

The new service will be modeled on GSA’s Public Buildings Service and Federal Acquisition Service, the two large GSA components that manage the federal government’s real estate portfolio and provide streamlined contracting services, respectively.

In the blog post, Roth said the new tech service will help agencies “navigate how to build, buy, and share user-­centered and emerging technology solutions."

That’s similar to the mission of 18F, which since launching in March 2014, has helped agencies -- on a fee-for-service basis -- redesign a number of online services and provided digital consulting services.

OCSIT, meanwhile, manages, the DigitalGov platform and houses the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which conducts security reviews of cloud computing service providers seeking to sell to the government.  

“By moving these programs into a new service, we are demonstrating a commitment to make agile, user­-centered delivery of technology the way we do business moving forward,” Roth said.

The current leaders of 18F are being elevated to lead the new tech service.

Phaedra Chrousos, formerly the head of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies and 18F, will serve as the commissioner of the new service. Aaron Snow, currently the executive director of 18F, will serve as deputy commissioner.  

In a statement, U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott said the new tech service “will strengthen the way federal agencies develop, buy and share cutting­-edge solutions, and continue the significant progress we’ve seen over recent years in enhancing the way government uses technology to serve the American public.”

GSA’s tech-office overhaul comes as the White House wants to expand the agency’s role when it comes to upgrading aging federal IT systems.

As part of the administration’s budget request for next year, President Barack Obama proposed the creation of a $3.1 billion IT modernization revolving fund that would be managed by a panel of experts headquartered at GSA.

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