The federal fix-it team and tech rescue squad "may be one of the government’s best-kept secrets."
New digitally-focused federal agencies may need awareness campaigns, a new survey shows.
About 54 percent of federal employees don't know about organizations such as 18F, the General Services Administration's tech fix-it team, or the U.S. Digital Service, a White House IT consultancy now being replicated in other departments, according to a survey conducted by social network GovLoop and cloud platform vendor Acquia.
The survey, which polled about 120 civilian, defense, state and local public sector employees about digital services, found that 54 percent didn't know what those groups were, and 18 percent felt they had little or no impact on their organizations.
Only about 9 percent had used resources from 18F and USDS — such as their tips for agile development — and 4 percent have directly received technical support from them.
18F and USDS "may be one of the government’s best-kept secrets," the report said. USDS has worked on projects including revamping Vets.gov; both USDS and 18F are collaborating on a College Scorecard that would help high school students search for institutions based on factors such as size and location.
Demand for 18F services is "extremely high, and while they are always scaling and hiring, it’s likely that due to resource constraints their focus is on delivery, not marketing," Dan Katz, technical director of public sector business at Acquia, said in a statement to Nextgov. "As more agencies bring on their own digital services teams, the awareness of 18F and USDS will likely increase."
Despite their current lack of awareness about 18F and USDS, 74.7 percent of survey respondents said they felt the government has been prioritizing the improvement of customer service through digital services.
In a statement emailed to Nextgov, spokespeople from GSA and the Office of Management and Budget noted "while there is more to do, we will continue building on our progress by measuring success not by how many people know the names of our organizations, but by the number of lives improved by our efforts."
Update: 1:35 p.m.: An OMB spokesman contacted Nextgov after this story was originally posted and requested we publish the full OMB-GSA statement. The full statement is below:
"The U.S. Digital Service and 18F are focused on improving government digital services for the American people. They are delivering tools and services for agencies across the federal government, including the Department of Education's new College Scorecard to help students with college choice, the myUSCIS platform that provides readily accessible information about the immigration process, and newly revamped vets.gov to provide one, comprehensive easy-to-use site for our nation's veterans. Federal employees are partnering with USDS and 18F to reimagine and enhance our government's ability to provide critical services to the people and businesses of America. While there is more to do, we will continue building on our progress by measuring success not by how many people know the names of our organizations, but by the number of lives improved by our efforts."