Two Years with the United States Digital Service

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Two years ago today, I joined the United States Digital Service (USDS). To say it’s been a wild ride from the get-go would be an understatement.

A few highlights from the past twenty four months:

From day one, I joined the team working to redesign, the website used by hundreds of thousands of military families each year to coordinate their relocation. As the project evolved, I assumed leadership of the project’s development efforts. I’d never served as lead Rails engineer on a multi-developer team before and I think I did alright! In a few short months, we researched, redesigned, rebuilt, and launched a new version of the website centered on meeting military families’ needs.

As part of the larger relocation program effort, I helped facilitate a week-long design sprint. We brought together service members, military spouses, and civilian government employees to engage in a series of design activities focusing on big picture ideas that could improve military families’ relocation experience. The week was intense and filled with long days, copious amounts of coffee, and productive conversations.

Through USDS, I’ve traveled the world, serving alongside the most talented, mission-driven people I’ve had the privilege to know. While we may disagree on one matter or the other, everyone on the team is focused on a common goal: using our talents to deliver better services to our fellow Americans. It’s so very refreshing to work in an environment where everyone is swimming in the same direction.

On these travels, I’ve applied the design and development skills picked up during my fourteen years in the private sector to help organizations identify, acknowledge, and address their most pressing challenges. The solutions are all-too-often straightforward: a better collaboration tool (or any collaboration tool), updated server software, a better website. Sometimes the challenges are bigger and the truths a little harder to deliver. Regardless, I’ve fully embodied two of USDS’ core values: “Find the truth. Tell the truth” and “Go where the work is.”

Two years ago, I wrote:

The work won’t be easy, I’ve been assured of that during every step of the interview process. Nor will the work be cutting edge, I’ve been told. The work will be meaningful. The work will fix things that are broken. The work might even change people’s opinions about their government.

That’s more true today than ever and there’s so much work remaining. It’s exhausting and the victories are sometimes few and far between. But the work matters and, as we often say, “No one is coming; it’s up to us.” I’m very much looking forward to the next two years.

If any of the above sounds like it’s up your alley, please consider a tour of service and apply to USDS. Government technology must adapt to meet the needs of the America people and you—yes, you!—could be a part of the transformation.