Obama taps ex Google engineer to head government tech overhaul

Obama taps ex Google engineer to head government tech overhaul

Summary: In order to avoid another HealthCare.gov debacle, US President Obama has hired a team of digital experts to overhaul government IT systems and websites.

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Credit: The White House
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.23.01
Credit: LinkedIn

The White House has hired a team of digital experts to overhaul US government websites and infrastructure in order to avoid future disasters similar to the HealthCare.gov scheme.

The US government announced the creation of the team dubbed the "US Digital Service" on Monday, according to the Associated Press. The team, ran by ex-Googler Mikey Dickerson, will focus on upgrading government websites, underlying IT infrastructure and also making government websites more consumer friendly.

Dickerson stepped in last year after taking a break from Google, and oversaw fixes to the disastrous HealthCare.gov website. The website was riddled with errors at launch which caused chaos as Americans attempted to sign up to Obamacare, leading to the system being branded as "unacceptable" by President Obama and a hit squad of tech experts being drafted to fix up the underlying code of the health insurance enrolment portal. Dickerson, a former Google website reliability manager, was part of the solution.

In a statement, Dickerson said:

"I'm excited for the opportunity to shift the focus of government IT delivery from compliance to greater impact and meeting the needs of real citizens. We can make services a lot more effective and cost efficient with better use of technology."

The US Digital Service team will attempt to bring government systems in line with the private sector, and will "collaborate with federal agencies to identify and address gaps in their capacity to design and operate customer-facing services," according to the AP. 

US officials say the team will begin with a headcount of 25, and some of the hires will be outside of the government sphere. According to the New York Times, the team's immediate focus will be on conducting quick triage and fixing up services used by the general public on a daily basis.

"We're also trying to get in front of these things more in the future," the former Google engineer said, "to make the strike team less necessary in the future."

However, the team's budget will be small as they must draw upon budget allocations already set for this year. Dickerson's team will have $3 million at their disposal, although they have requested $13 million to be allocated out of next year's budget.

In addition, the White House has also released a draft playbook of best digital practices for US agencies to improve existing services.

Topics: Government US, Data Management, Hardware, Software

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  • How the better to spy on you

    my little pretties.

    Nice to see the government hiring people with skills the NSA will use....
    • Will

      “Haters gonna hate” -Abe Lincoln
      • interesting

        The old nth-tier architecture is obsolete, it (healthcare.gov) should have been an elastic architecture from the get-go. Getting someone from "new tech" is the right approach.
        The real challenge to my way of thinking to manage these 834's is with the SecSaaS. It is the FISMA and GRC (government risk and compliance) that is lagging.

        Some vendor in a vertical market will finally perform the RC checklist, create SecSaaS and maintain it, and more elastic solutions will follow.
    • willy would prefer they hired billy gates

      cos he never does anything wrong right?
  • At least they have someone that understands software.

    And how to make it work.
  • Unfortunately, too little too late

    There are many vendors sucking at the govt teats to the tune of billions of dollars each/year and they aren't let the cash cows die. IBM is afloat BECAUSE of the feds as are other companies such as accenture, lockheed martin, etc.

    And you have m$, oracle, HP etc drawing huge govt contracts. The politicians have been bought and paid off and one only has to look at huge budget deficits and where the money is going - its never coming back ( ad they don't even want to return part of it back as taxes).
  • Obama's tech team

    Go out to LinkedIn and check out Mikey Dickerson's profile. He had 3 little jobs in six years after graduating and is anything but a qualified expert that is needed to fix this shit. How is it that the US gov has all the money in the known universe and will only hire encompetent people who are politically connected to Obama?
    • You comments tell all

      Your spelling is enough to show your literacy and competence