Shortly after the White House set up the new U.S. Digital Service last summer, bringing in Google’s Mikey Dickerson to lead the effort to “build the federal government’s capacity to deliver world-class services to the American people,” the group posted its first product, the Digital Services Playbook.
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It’s really a checklist of 13 “key plays” agencies leaders must make in order to push through a successful tech project:
- Understand what people need
- Address the whole experience, from start to finish
- Make it simple and intuitive
- Build the service using agile and iterative practices
- Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery
- Assign one leader and hold that person accountable
- Bring in experienced teams
- Choose a modern technology stack
- Deploy in a flexible hosting environment
- Automate testing and deployments
- Manage security and privacy through reusable processes
- Use data to drive decisions
- Default to open
Each step includes a checklist and questions to consider in laying out and executing a plan. The fundamental idea is this: remember that someone has already done what your agency wants to do, so don’t think you have to start from scratch – intellectually, that is.
The Digital Service team, which works out of OMB, already has started work on a revised version of the playbook. They are soliciting comments for the new version here, and people have already proposed hundreds of comments including more “plays.” No word yet on when Digital Service will publish volume two, but we’ve asked.
Before he left his post as Federal CIO last year, Steve VanRoekle told the Washington Post that the Digital Service team “isn’t going to be a group that we parachute in to write code.” Rather, the focus is going to be on helping agencies figure out where their weak points are – and how to fix them. “Think of this as [a team of] management consultants that helps you understand your gaps.”
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