The U.S. Digital Service will pilot new types of digital projects, establish fresh short- and long-term objectives to help hold itself to account, and push for stronger partnerships with tech organizations in the government as part of a new strategic plan for 2024, FedScoop has learned.
According to presentation slides of USDS Administrator Mina Hsiang’s strategic priorities for 2024 obtained by this publication, the agency will work with OMB on the budgeting process to support agency resourcing, increase USDS’s investment in organizational and talent operations, and better emphasize stories that humanize its work and impact in addition to highlighting important data points.
Although some of the language within the strategic priorities presentation is broad, it does not include specific mention of the agency’s self described top three objectives highlighted on its “our mission” page on the agency website: “1. Transform critical, public-facing services, 2. Expand the use of common platforms, services, and tools, 3. Rethink how the government buys digital services.”
However, the presentation does include an entire slide addressing their forth objective of the agency which is to “bring top technical talent into civic service.”
One of the key USDS’ strategic priorities for 2024 includes “clearly and collaboratively establishing near and long term objectives for our work and holding ourselves and agencies accountable to them,” the slides said. They were part of a presentation to shared with staff during a meeting last week led by Hsiang, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Furthermore, the agency plans to focus on “piloting new types of projects and approaches to expand our capabilities and learn what works,” according to the slides obtained.
Speaking with FedScoop, Administrator Hsiang confirmed details of the updated strategy, and said the priorities include: continuing to work directly with agencies like HHS and SSA to deliver better digital outcomes, helping to create stronger tech organizations within agencies to improve operations, and supporting agencies in building their capacity to hire more employees with tech expertise.
“Since earlier this year we’ve been partnering with the Social Security Administration, and we help them rebuild their entire public facing website. So if you look at SSA.gov now, as compared to what it was like in January of this year, it’s materially different,” Hsiang told FedScoop during a virtual interview from her home in Boston.
“So the overall completion rate of tasks on SSA has increased by more than 10%. We’ve seen pretty significant improvements at SSA, on how the public is able to access services via their website based on that partnership that we’ve had with them,” Hsiang added.
Hsiang is the third administrator at USDS, which was launched in 2014 by the White House to provide consultation services to federal agencies on IT and technology issues as well as work to improve and simplify digital services including improving federal websites in particular.
According to Hsiang, website redesign is only one of several ways USDS works with federal agencies to improve digital experiences for citizens. It also often focuses on reengineering business processes and integrating technical services that are necessary for enhancing customer support and experience, she said.
In the presentation slides, the agency also stated that one of its strategic priorities is “partnering more effectively with other technology organizations across the gov like TTS, TMF and the OFCIO to ensure the best allocation of resources against end objectives.”
Technology Transformation Services is a division of the General Services Administration (GSA), which is responsible for leading the digital transformation of government agencies. The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) received a $1 billion infusion under the American Rescue Plan, and is focused on providing extra funding to agency technology projects with governmentwide implications.
The Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer (OFCIO) provides overall strategic direction for improving IT practices across government and sits within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
When asked about how specifically Hsiang planned to work more effectively with other tech entities in the federal government to transform the digital experience of Americans, Hsiang said there were no major improvements needed at the moment.
“We have an extremely close relationship at this point. I know at various points in time that hasn’t always been true,” the USDS administrator said.
“We share full information about what we’re working on, how things are going, and ensure that we’re not duplicating and that we can be additive and are well coordinated across the organizations,” she added.