THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
August 11, 2014
FACT SHEET: Improving and Simplifying Digital Services
“I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives.”
— President Barack Obama
Late last year, a team of digital and technology experts helped to turn-around HealthCare.gov. Today, building on the same proven strategic approach that ultimately enabled millions of Americans to sign up for health insurance, the Administration is launching the U.S. Digital Service. This small team of America’s best digital experts will work in collaboration with other government agencies to make websites more consumer friendly, to identify and fix problems, and to help upgrade the government’s technology infrastructure. Mikey Dickerson, a top private-sector engineer who was part of the team that helped fix HealthCare.gov will serve as the new Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer.
The team has one core mission: to improve and simplify the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government by:
- Establishing standards to bring the government’s digital services in line with the best private sector services;
- Identifying common technology patterns that will help us scale services effectively;
- Collaborating with agencies to identify and address gaps in their capacity to design, develop, deploy and operate excellent citizen-facing services; and
- Providing accountability to ensure agencies see results.
With today’s announcement, the Administration is also releasing for public comment two crucial components in our growing IT toolkit that will enable agencies to do their best work– the Digital Service Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook.
Leveraging Best Practices with the Digital Services Playbook. To help the Digital Service achieve its mission, today the Administration is releasing the initial version of a Digital Services Playbook that lays out best practices for effective digital service delivery and that will serve as a guide for agencies across government. To increase the success of government digital service projects, this playbook outlines 13 key “plays” drawn from private and public-sector best practices that, if followed together, will help Federal agencies deliver services that work well for users and require less time and money to develop and operate.
Using Agile Processes to Procure Digital Services with the TechFAR Handbook. Too often, the lack of guidance encouraging agency use of innovative contracting practices results in narrow and overly rigid interpretations of federal acquisition rules that complicates the government’s ability to adopt smarter ways of acquiring high-quality digital services. To ensure government has the right tech tools to do its job, and can be more agile and flexible to meet rapidly changing needs, the Administration is also today launching the TechFAR Handbook, a guide that explains how agencies can execute key plays in the Playbook in ways consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which governs how the government must buy goods and services from the private sector. This document will help agencies take advantage of existing authorities to procure development services in new ways that more closely match the modern software development techniques used in the private sector.