U.S. Digital Service
The United States Digital Service, known as USDS, is part of the Executive Office of the President. Its mandate is to help improve the government’s development of digital services. In order to fulfill this mission, USDS focuses on four key areas: transforming critical services; rethinking how the government buys digital services; expanding the use of common platforms, services, and tools; and bringing top technical talent into public service.
According to its July 2017 Report to Congress, USDS works with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the Small Business Administration, among many others. Since its launch in 2014, USDS has been involved in a wide variety of projects, including:
- The College Scorecard, an innovative website launched in September 2015, makes “comprehensive data on college costs, graduation rates, graduate debt, repayment rates, and post-college earnings accessible to help students choose a school based on access, affordability and outcomes.” Developed by USDS with the help of 18F, the College Scorecard combines data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) at the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Student Loan Data System, and tax records provided through the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help students and their parents learn how graduates of different colleges compare in their long-term financial success.
- Healthcare.gov— a federal website that the public can use to enroll in health insurance— faced serious technical challenges during its 2013 launch. USDS worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to stabilize and improve Healthcare.gov. According to its 2016 Report to Congress: “USDS staff helped CMS implement several private sector best practices including performance tracking of the system and application process, building an improved identity management solution with an uptime of 99.99%, increasing the conversion rate in the new application workflow from 55% to 85%, and building new systems with industry standard open source software.”
The VA Appeals Status Tool, launched by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and USDS, helps veterans “access detailed information about the status of their benefits appeals [including] alerts about needed actions, as well as estimates of how long each step of the process takes.” It enables veterans to appeal decisions on their benefits that they disagree with, and to have representatives help them with their appeals if they choose to.