We talk with U.S. Digital Service project managers for a ground-level view of what it really takes to make innovation happen in government.
The U.S. Digital Service—established in 2014—is, by its nature, a high-level agency. USDS teams are based out of the Office of Management and Budget and apportioned out to assist agencies with big, complex technology problems.
The agency looks across government to identify pain points, then parachutes in to help. But those teams are then embedded in the agencies they work with, giving USDS engineers and designers a ground-level view of what’s really going on across the federal government.
As Critical Update’s third season continues, we’re joined by USDS Director of Engineering David Holmes, who manages projects at several agencies; software engineer Alberto Colon Viera, who has worked with the Small Business Administration and now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and Misu Tasnim and Scott Haselton, digital service experts leading the work at CMS.
All four offer unique perspectives on innovation efforts from the bottom up—though several themes pervade, including the importance of remaining agile, finding and elevating champions within the agency and having empathy for the internal and external users of the systems being overhauled.