Critical Update: Get Stuff Done


Except he didn’t say “stuff.” Defense Digital Service co-founders join the podcast to talk security clearances, big cloud procurements and plenty of Star Wars.

The third season of Critical Update continues with an in-depth conversation on innovating inside one of the biggest bureaucracies in the world: the Defense Department. For episode four, we’re joined by the co-founders of the Defense Digital Service, the U.S. Digital Service offshoot housed within the Pentagon.

The Defense Department’s digital service team—whose motto is “get shit done”—is best known for its Hack the Pentagon initiative and the $10 billion Joint Defense Enterprise Infrastructure, or JEDI, war-cloud that has been tied up in lawsuits and ethics reviews.

The episode features then-DDS Director Chris Lynch, who announced his retirement from government service shortly after our interview, and former DDS Chief of Staff Reina Staley, who helped build the outpost and currently manages the Hack the Pentagon program. Lynch has since left government—replaced by former Chicago police officer and chief data officer Brett Goldstein—but offers significant insight into the projects and challenges the team has been working on since its inception in 2015.

The conversation ranges from how the team is involved in fixing the government’s broken security clearance process to the four types of people the Digital Service tries to recruit. Spoiler: It’s not all software engineers.

There’s also a lot of talk about Star Wars.

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

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct Staley's current title.

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