A bill introduced by Democratic lawmakers Friday would extend the life of the U.S. Digital Service, the White House’s digital fix-it team, for a decade.
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., introduced the U.S. Digital Service Act, which would authorize the team for a 10-year term, ensuring it would live beyond the end of the Obama administration in January.
“As someone with two decades of experience in the technology sector, I can tell you our government’s use of technology can be more efficient, flexible and customer-centric,” DelBene said in a release.
“Whether it’s applying for student loans or signing up for Medicare online, too often taxpayers are confronted with unfriendly, confusing user-platforms. The U.S. Digital Service is working to identify, fix and prevent large-scale technology issues within government so that taxpayers can get the return on investment they deserve.”
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.
“We have some of the most talented tech minds in the world willing to forgo more lucrative private sector jobs because they want to improve our country – we should not waste this opportunity,” DelBene said.
Without a legislative authorization like the one she proposes, the USDS faces an uncertain future in the federal government. President Barack Obama — who created the group in August 2014 based on the team of digital experts who saved the belly-up Healthcare.gov the year prior — leaves office in January and his successor might choose to restructure USDS or even get rid of it.
Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; and Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., cosponsored DelBene’s bill, HR 5372.
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