U.S. Digital Service
Mikey Dickerson and Haley Van Dyck found themselves far from home and far from certainty about where to take the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) next. In the summer of 2015, they had landed in London to meet with Mike Bracken, director of the United Kingdom's Government Digital Service (GDS). In 2014, President Barack Obama had given USDS a monumental task: transform how the federal government worked for the American people, digitally. The seeds of USDS had grown out of the rescue of HealthCare.gov, the federal website meant to allow consumers to shop for private health insurance. Its launch and crash in October 2013 had threatened one of Obama's signature policy achievements. Dickerson and a small team had been drafted to help fix HealthCare.gov and had successfully done so in a matter of months. While in London, Dickerson and Van Dyck wondered, of the other areas that most cried out for new technology approaches, which should be tackled next? Moreover, GDS had embedded satellite teams into the U.K.'s government agencies to guide, assist, and in some cases control, each agency's digital presence. Did London hold lessons for if, and how, these teams could be successful in the U.S. government? USDS had begun to experiment with this model too, embedding teams in a handful of departments in the U.S federal government. How could USDS best work with the dozens of agencies that were actually doing the work of government?