U.S. Digital Service

Case Solution

Mitchell B. Weiss, Nick Sinai, Michael Norris
Harvard Business School ()

Mikey Dickerson and Haley Van Dyck were away from home, not knowing where to take the US Digital Service (USDS) next. In the summer of 2015, they landed in London to meet Mike Bracken, director of the UK Government Digital Service (GDS). In 2014, President Barack Obama assigned USDS a monumental task: the digital transformation of the US government for the American people. The USDS seed came from the bailout of HealthCare.gov, the federal website designed to allow consumers to obtain private health insurance. Its launch and fall in October 2013 threatened one of Obama’s major political achievements. Dickerson and a small team had been called in to fix HealthCare.gov and had succeeded in just a few months. While in London, Dickerson and Van Dyck wondered what other areas that most demanded new technology approaches should be addressed next. In addition, GDS had satellite teams embedded in UK government agencies to guide, support and, in some cases, control the digital presence of each agency. Has London taught any lessons on whether these teams could be successful in the US government, and in what ways? The USDS had also begun to experiment with this model, integrating teams in a handful of departments of the US federal government. How could the USDS better work with the dozen or so agencies that were actually doing the government’s job?

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