Critical Update: Innovation Happens Naturally—With a Lot of Work

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U.S. Digital Service Administrator Matt Cutts joins the podcast to talk about the current state—and future of—one of the most wide-reaching innovation programs in government.

For the second episode of Season 3, we sit down with U.S. Digital Service Administrator Matt Cutts to get a high-level view of innovation across the federal government.

USDS was established in 2014 after the disastrous initial rollout of, which failed on a technical level. To fix the problem, the Obama administration brought in some tech-savvy folks from the private sector to attack the problem. After a successful redeploy, the administration decided to make the program permanent, with the ultimate goal to have a USDS team in every agency.

That larger goal has yet to be realized—and likely never will be—but that doesn’t mean USDS isn’t active across the government. How the teams grow and work with their agency counterparts is continuing to evolve.

“We did start out as a very small SWAT team,” Cutts says. “Is it better to be a firefighter or more like an engineering/culture change management organization? … We need to iterate. We need to try different experiments.”

Cutts offers some ideas on where the USDS model is going and also talks about the difficulties for temporary teams working on big, hairy problems and how to assist the resident tech teams without coming through like a wrecking ball.

He also talks about playing board games in the Secretary of War suite and looking for engineers “with a few scars."

You can listen to the full episode below or download and subscribe in the App Store or Google Play.

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