U.S. Digital Service Administrator Highlights the Importance of Improving Government Digital Experiences at Adobe’s Lehi Campus
U.S. Digital Service (USDS) Administrator Matt Cutts spoke to Adobe employees at the company’s Lehi campus at the end of October about how he and his colleagues are helping government agencies deliver better services to the American people through improved technology and design. Matt shared current projects, success stories, and explained how companies like Adobe are helping to transform government technology.
The USDS is a White House start-up, founded by President Barack Obama in August 2014 to bring together the best technology, design, and government talent. Originally, USDS planned to hire ten people to focus on the most pressing issues facing government, such as the Healthcare.gov rollout. In just a few short years, USDS has grown and is now tackling issues ranging from improving veterans benefits to finding bugs in Department of Defense programs.
With so many issues to solve, Cutts said USDS focuses on high impact projects and feasibility. One of those projects was fixing errors that were making it difficult to transfer veterans’ Service Treatment Records (STRs) — the documents that detail a veteran’s full medical history – from the Department of Defense to the Veterans Administration. More than 5% of veterans were not receiving benefits because their records were getting lost. To solve this problem, USDS improved the technical infrastructure supporting STRs and made it easier for doctors and other providers to share files using PDFs rather than a variety of file formats that were causing the issue.
Another project undertaken by USDS is “Hack the Pentagon” – a bug bounty program designed to identify and resolve bugs at the Department of Defense. In just 24 days, 138 bugs were identified and fixed, securing several major vulnerabilities.
He said the correct approach when working with government agencies is designing with them, not for them. It is critical to understand the problems that agencies and citizens face. Cutts said it is important to connect with citizens and place them at the heart of public services, and that requires governments to go beyond functional needs to focus on experience.
Cutts, a former Google employee, explained why he took a leave of absence from Google to do a stint with the USDS in December 2016 and why he decided to stay. While he misses the free lunches at Google, he said the work he does is deeply inspiring and engaging. Helping veterans access their benefits or improving Medicare for millions of seniors has a real impact that improves lives.
He also encouraged Adobe employees to consider spending a “short tour of service” with USDS much like he originally intended to learn more about how government thinks and improve government services. USDS brings on short-term talent in the areas of engineering, design, marketing, communications, project management, recruiting, security specialists, and consulting to solve the most difficult technology issues government faces.
The Adobe team enjoyed getting to know Matt and learning more ways that we can help government agencies provide better digital experiences for Americans.