USDA seeks fellows for its new digital service team

Melissa Kopka/Getty Images

The tour-of-duty positions will “act as firefighters” to address pressing challenges across the Department of Agriculture, according to the agency’s CIO.

The Agriculture Department has issued a call for applications for its first cohort of digital service fellows, who will be part of the agency’s new digital service team, it announced Monday. 

As Nextgov/FCW reported last year when the program was in development, the team is modeled after existing programs, like the White House’s U.S. Digital Service, and meant to help Agriculture ensure that its technology and services are easy to use by having a team ready to deploy across the department as needed.

Specifically, Agriculture is looking for experts in customer experience, procurement or digital service delivery to apply to the tour-of-duty positions. 

“The fellows program will allow us to act as firefighters and assign our best people to the hottest problems within USDA,” said Gary Washington, Agriculture’s chief information officer, in a statement. “It will give us the opportunity to have subject matter experts on hand without waiting for the hiring or contracting process, which means we can start right away in solving the challenge and continuing to provide outstanding customer service to those we serve.”

Selected fellows will be appointed for two- to four-year stints either remotely across the United States or in Washington, D.C. The department expects to hire five to 20 candidates at a GS-15 level. These jobs don't require the elaborate and lengthy "federal resume" often needed to apply for such positions. Applicants can watch this page to learn when USAJobs listings for the different tracks of expertise open for applications. Candidates have until March 4 to apply. The program is capped at 500 applications, according to the department

The fellows can expect to work on digitization efforts and with the department’s high-impact service providers that deliver critical, widely used programs, like farm loans and nutrition assistance.

"The Digital Service Fellows Program is being uniquely set-up to further partnerships across mission areas and offices within USDA for accelerating the design, development, and delivery of our customer-centric services across the nation," said Fátima Terry, deputy director for the digital service. “This program is an important milestone for USDA and moving the department’s technology workforce into the future."

Editor's note: This article was updated Feb. 20 with additional information.

NEXT STORY: White House launches federal spending inventory