Clinton tech agenda bakes in innovation teams

Hillary Clinton's newly released technology agenda calls for retaining the U.S. Digital Service and other innovation groups to improve government services.

Photo credit: a katz /

Hillary Clinton plans to make digital innovation teams a permanent fixture of government. Photo credit: a katz /

Hillary Clinton plans to push ahead with current Obama administration policies on innovation teams inside government. The technology agenda of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee calls for making digital services a "permanent priority" for federal agencies, and for diving in on projects to make government services easier to use and more accessible.

Clinton released her tech agenda on June 28. While it is largely aimed at the commercial technology sector -- priorities include improving tech education, encouraging startups, promoting access to services and building out infrastructure -- much of the document focuses squarely on pushing ahead with government tech innovation plans rolled out by the Obama administration.

Specifically, Clinton plans to "charge the USDS with transforming and digitizing the top 25 federal government services that directly serve citizens," and to establish what the campaign is calling "Yelp for government," as a model for providing instant and continuous citizen feedback on the performance of government websites.

Clinton seeks "a constant flow of technology and design experts," working on government projects, which sounds like a bid to extend the flexible hiring authorities that 18F and USDS are using now to staff up their teams. Additionally, she's promoting agile development with a plan to "break large federal IT projects into smaller pieces," to make it easier to evaluate progress and halt work on failing efforts.

On the procurement side, Clinton wants to "streamline procurement processes and get rid of unnecessary internal red tape that prevents government from developing intuitive and personalized digital experience that they have come to expect from great consumer internet companies."

The continuity with the Obama administration should come as no surprise. Clinton's tech team reportedly includes Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America and onetime White House deputy CTO.

Clinton's cybersecurity plans focus on policy directed outward at businesses and governments, and inward to protecting government systems.  She would build on Obama's Cybersecurity National Action Plan, "especially the empowerment of a federal Chief Information Security Officer, the modernization of federal IT, and upgrades to government-wide cybersecurity." She's also urging agencies to follow the lead of the Pentagon, and institute bug bounties and other crowdsourcing efforts "to encourage hackers to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities they discover to the government." At the same time, she plans to ramp up "elite, cleared government red teams" to seek out and remediate vulnerabilities on government networks.

Clinton is looking to advanced analytics to upgrade the government's efforts to conduct oversight of government programs, and evaluate progress on government goals. One possible upgrade over the Obama administration is the integration of "up-to-date, real time data" into the site. Currently the site is updated on a quarterly basis.

Clinton also plans to "continue and accelerate" Obama's open data policies, while also looking to the Data Act implementation to increase transparency of government spending. She would task regulators with collecting information from businesses as structured data rather than documents.