Last month, Telegraph brought in tech leaders from the Obama Administration, Nate Lubin and Haley van Dyck, to discuss tech hiring and jobs in the executive branch for those interested in getting involved with the Trump administration.
Tech has already drastically changed the private sector, and now government is increasingly digitizing, though there’s a lot of red tape involved. But, like with industry, execution is everything: bad service erodes trust in government, and well-designed web-services can help improve civic interaction with agencies.
One of the biggest challenges is piecing together a quality team. Recruiting great engineers can be difficult, as agencies have to follow the General Schedule for pay and can’t offer free food, ping pong, or other start-up/tech company perks. Further, the point system used by government in hiring can seem an unbeatable hurdle to applicants.
Procurement is also a challenge, as the buying process for federal government has various structural issues that make a straightforward free-market buying process by government impossible.
There is also a risk-averse culture within government, which can be difficult on entrepreneurial types. Compliance matters most, and innovation becomes difficult within such a framework.
With great challenges come great rewards
But steps have been taken to fix these problems during the Obama Administration, with Bureaucracy Hackers joining agencies and the government beginning to understand the importance of online marketing in offering services.
Though sometimes it feels like the wall is never moving in government as you continuously beat your head against it, eventually the wall will budge and the impact is meaningful.
How to get involved in digital government
There are a handful of great agencies and teams for helping hack gov, including:
The office of the CTO, which spends its resources incubating private sector ideas and integrating them into agencies and tech policy. For instance, ensuring that regulations don’t cause trouble in emerging fields like drone aviation and artificial intelligence.
The CIO Council, which is in charge of IT infrastructure and tech spend, helping manage an $86B yearly budget for federal IT and determining where it lands in agencies. The CIO council also sets inward facing tech policy.
The US Digital Service (USDS), a tactical team which integrates within agencies to help manage and transform (or digitize) government services.
18F, the GSA’s digital service delivery mechanism and sister team to the White House’s USDS. It operates like a company, paid for its services.
The White House’s Office of Digital Strategy, which connects citizens with the governments activities and uses digital first tactics to create a dialogue between government and its stakeholders.
Skills for government tech workers
The required talents aren’t too much different than that of the private sector; similarly, it’s important to care about your projects and not take no for an answer, but tact is far more important in government as there are unbreachable boundaries inherent in the process.
Emotional intelligence is also key as you’ll have to work with many teams and not get too upset when one door closes, since it will happen often.
A key difference? The task at hand can be less clear in government. While businesses usually have a narrowly defined mission statement, in the public sector you are pulled in different directions simultaneously.
But don’t take our word for it: