Mohana Ravindranath | Nextgov | November 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

Think Tank To Trump: Dump USDS

Flickr user O'Reilly Conferences

Updated Nov. 28: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation today retracted its recommendation that President-elect Donald Trump eliminate the U.S. Digital Service. The updated memo states ITIF “actually believes there is good reason for the USDS to provide the capabilities it does within the White House, and because agency CIOs should have authority and accountability to implement major IT initiatives.”

It's not clear what will happen to prominent federal tech teams during the Trump administration.

Groups including the General Services Administration's tech consultancy 18F and the White House's U.S. Digital Service, pioneered under President Barack Obama and driven by short-term recruits from the private sector, face an uncertain future—and one tech-focused think tank says USDS should be eliminated altogether. 

Among several recommendations published this week, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation staff suggested the White House and Congress replace USDS with a new group of about 50 people -- a "specialized team of experts" within GSA who can help agencies adopt IT initiatives. 

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

The proposed group might focus on implementing IT modernization efforts or tech programs such as health insurance exchanges, the memo said. The group would also "oversee the outside consultants who carry out most of these federal projects," and another similar group could be focused on outsourcing tech projects. 

ITIF did not respond to Nextgov's request to elaborate on how this new team's mission or structure would differ from USDS', and USDS did not respond to request for a response to the recommendation.

Both 18F and USDS have supporters on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who recently tweeted Washington should "modernize" through programs such as 18F and USDS, and Rep. Steny Hoyer D-M.D., who agreed and tweeted the federal government should "keep it going."

ITIF's other recommendations include appointing chief innovation officers at all cabinet-level agencies, creating funds in each federal agency for upgrading their systems, and that the White House should work with Congress to create an "IT innovation fund."

Federal agencies should use the money they were spending on "operations" and invest it in "more efficient technology," the memo said—this would direct agencies "to seek out cost savings and increased productivity while also modernizing outdated IT systems."

The House has already passed legislation, called the Modernizing Government Technology, which would create working funds within agencies for IT upgrade. The Senate has yet to address it in session.

Comments
JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.