The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a new digital services outfit — with help from a veteran of the field.
Greg Godbout, the former executive director of the General Services Administration’s digital service shop 18F, started as EPA’s new chief technology officer earlier this month. In his new job, Godbout told FedScoop he primarily would be leading the agency’s new digital services group.
His team will work on projects “very similar to the lines of businesses and services that 18F provided, but just providing it internally,” he said.
It would be part of EPA’s Office of Environmental Information, which is led by new agency CIO Ann Dunkin. Godbout plans to bring in five employees, though the number could change depending on workload. Right now the group is working on selecting two projects or programs to focus on through the end of the year.
“I haven’t quite decided what those are going to be yet, but we’re going to start to narrow it down,” he said.
Godbout has served on the front lines of the government’s recent foray into digital services. As a co-founder of 18F, he was one of a group of Presidential Innovation Fellows who aimed to create a place in government where new, inventive digital products could thrive. 18F was meant to challenge the assumption that it was hard to innovate in government.
Since those days, digital services operations in government have received a flurry of support from officials. In its latest budget request, the White House proposed creating teams like 18F or the U.S. Digital Service throughout government.
Citizens have come to demand a seamless experience using digital tools, and the government needs to catch up, Godbout said.
“People expect to interact with organizations like they buy vacations — it should be that simple,” he said.
“It was very clear that the goal with 18F was to scale it,” he said. “I very much felt that to continue the cause, I needed to go inside an agency.”
After his turn as a Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2013, Godbout had expected to leave the government. But what made him stay, he said, was what made him want to continue his career at EPA.
“It’s hard to go back to other work when the federal government is filled with such great mission and so many opportunities to affect things on a large scale,” he said.