Congress Wants More Answers About US Digital Service

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Weeks after a House oversight hearing, the committee requested a deeper look into the group’s priorities.

Weeks after an oversight hearing probed vaunted tech teams 18F and the White House’s U.S. Digital Service, lawmakers are asking for a deeper look into USDS’ internal processes.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, lawmakers asked the watchdog to assess how the tech troubleshooting team prioritizes the federal government’s highest-risk programs, and how closely the group works with agency chief information officers on those programs.

Earlier this month, a GAO report concluded that USDS, which recruits heavily from the private sector, might leave agency CIOs out of the loop when parachuting in to solve large-scale technology problems. GAO recommended the Office of Management and Budget more clearly define the relationship between USDS, the satellite teams it has stood up in other agencies and existing leadership in federal agencies.

In that report, GAO also noted USDS has not formally documented how its work helps the highest-priority tech projects in the government -- 10 of which have been highlighted by OMB, including and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Transformation program.

Congress had required USDS to report quarterly on these 10 projects, and how its work selection process prioritizes them, but it has not yet done so, that report said.

The oversight committee specifically asked GAO for more information on:

  • Agency oversight on the 10 high-priority programs
  • USDS’ prioritization process, including how it incorporates the 10 programs into project selection
  • How USDS coordinates with CIOs of other federal agencies
  • Potential improvements to the quarterly status reports