Former Google engineer to lead USDS in interim

Matt Cutts, now the director of engineering at the U.S. Digital Service, has resigned from Google to remain in government and is now poised to be the team’s acting administrator, he said in a blog post Wednesday.

The U.S. Digital Service has a new leader: Matt Cutts.

In June, Google’s Webspam team head said he would take leave from the tech giant to join the Pentagon’s outpost of the Obama-created digital fix-it team, the Defense Digital Service.

Cutts, now the director of engineering at the U.S. Digital Service, has since resigned from Google to remain in government, and he is now poised to take over as the team’s leader, he said in a blog post Wednesday. He will assume the acting administrator role when current USDS Administrator Mikey Dickerson steps down Inauguration Day.

“The work that the USDS does is critical to the American people, and I’m honored to continue that tradition,” Cutts wrote in his post.


Cutts joined Google in 2000 and quickly made a name as one of the company’s leading search engine engineers. Cutts wrote the first version of Google’s family filter, SafeSearch.

Cutts writes in his post: “Working for the government doesn’t pay as well as a big company in Silicon Valley. We don’t get any free lunches. Many days are incredibly frustrating. All I can tell you is that the work is deeply important and inspiring, and you have a chance to work on things that genuinely make peoples’ lives better. A friend who started working in this space several years ago told me ‘These last five years have been the hardest and worst and best and most rewarding I think I will ever have.’”

The politically appointed administrator Dickerson started his tour in government when he also agreed to leave Google, but in his case for what was supposed to be just three days to work on the ailing, as he outlined in his recently-posted farewell letter to the organization he led.

“I’m often asked what the biggest difference was in my work here versus my previous life as a Google site reliability engineer. My answer is simple: the magnitude of the impact,” Dickerson wrote. “When I look back on the last two years, I’m astounded by how difficult this work has been to do, but those struggles pale in comparison to the positive impact the team has made on the lives of millions of Americans.”

And indeed, the organization has come to work on projects to improve everything from to modernizing the immigration processing system at the Department of Homeland Security.


“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to show up every day and fight for the American people. I look forward to seeing how you continue this fight at such a crucial moment in our history,” Dickerson wrote.

Samantha Ehlinger

Written by Samantha Ehlinger

Samantha Ehlinger is a technology reporter for FedScoop. Her work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and several McClatchy papers, including Miami Herald and The State. She was a part of a McClatchy investigative team for the “Irradiated” project on nuclear worker conditions, which won a McClatchy President’s Award. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Contact Samantha via email at, or follow her on Twitter at @samehlinger. Subscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here:

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