Bill or no bill, backers say USDS will continue under the next president

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Whether or not Congress moves ahead with a bill to authorize the Obama administration’s IT “SWAT team” for 10 years, the effort is sure to continue in some form, one of its founders told FedScoop. 

“I do expect the work we’re doing to continue,” said Eric Hysen, who helped set up the U.S. Digital Service in 2014 and now works in digital services at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The legacy we want to leave from USDS is not of any one process or organization but of better services for the American people,” he told FedScoop TV in an interview on the sidelines of last week’s MobileGov Summit. 

“If we can, we do that — nothing else really matters.”

[Read More: Bill would extend USDS by ten years]

A bill introduced Friday by Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., the U.S. Digital Service Act, H.R. 5372, would authorize the team for a 10-year term, ensuring it would live beyond the end of the Obama administration in January.

The service’s employees are not career federal officials but private sector tech specialists working for the government on two-to-four-year fixed-term contracts.

Hysen, who spoke before the bill’s release, did not comment on the legislation directly, but he made it clear he believes the USDS will continue, no matter what the result of the election in November.

“What we do is really nonpartisan work,” he said. “It’s about making existing government services more effective and more efficient — and we’ve seen an amazing response from both parties.”

The USDS budget “was one of the few items where the president’s budget request was fully funded by Congress. My [digital services] team at DHS was fully funded as well,” he pointed out.

“We see those as really good signs that no matter who is sitting in the White House, there will still be a deep appetite for bringing in talented people from the private sector, partnering them with [federal employees] internally and empowering them to help transform government services.”

See the whole interview here.

Contact the reporter on this story via email at Shaun.Waterman@FedScoop.com, or follow him on Twitter @WatermanReports. Subscribe to the Daily Scoop to get all the federal IT news you need every morning in your inbox at 6 a.m. www.fedscoop.com/subscribe

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Eric Hysen, transition
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