17 Ways the U.S. Digital Service Made an Impact in 2017

The USDS is looking toward 2018 more committed to our mission than ever: to deliver better government services to the American people through technology and design.

Here are some of our most impactful moments from this year (in no particular order):

1. Giving our Veterans the services they deserve. We’ve provided almost 600,000 Veterans the ability to apply for health and education benefits through Vets.gov by making it easier to access the correct forms online. We celebrated (with cake!) at the 250K mark and are thrilled to see this number continuing to increase. We also streamlined VA Appeals Processing to eliminate manual steps (and errors), and give Veterans real-time status updates and Debugged the VA network to allow Veterans’ Appeals to be certified.

Pictured: Digital Service Veterans Affairs Team, Contractors from the Vets.gov project & the VA CIO

2. Deployed Login.gov to simplify access to public services. USDS and the General Service Administration’s 18F built a common identity platform, known as login.gov, to improve and secure the experience of interacting with the federal government online. We’re up to over one million new accounts.

3. Hosted a prize competition on Challenge.gov to have a vendor develop and launch a digital IT acquisition professional training (DITAP) for federal contracting officers — 54 have received the training. These professionals are now working in their agencies as advisors or contracting officers on various digital service initiatives, including Vets.gov and Sam.gov.

4. Digitized the application for U.S. Citizenship. Our team at DHS helped USCIS build an online application for the N-400 Naturalization Form — making the final step in the immigration process before immigrants become U.S. citizens a little easier.

5. Faced challenges. Made a mess and fixed things. Made the user unavoidable. Asked ourselves “what are you actually trying to achieve?”

6. Made it easier for small businesses to become government contractors and locate their businesses in HUBZones. USDS worked with SBA to launch the HUBZone Map service into the Certify.SBA.gov ecosystem to provide a user-friendly, 508 compliant, mobile enabled experience for businesses to apply for and verify their compliance with the HUBZone Program.

7. We’re not a bill but we went to Capitol Hill to present our Report to Congress and demo a few of our projects for House and Senate Members and Staff.

8. Launched the Trusted Traveler Comparison tool, which recommends the best program for a user’s particular travel needs and allows travelers to understand the costs, benefits, and eligibility requirements for five Trusted Traveler programs: TSA Pre√®, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.

9. Continued the tradition of signing the wall at our Defense Digital Service office.

10. Partnered with U.S. Transportation Command to develop a new and re-imagined movement management system. The Defense Digital Service is also modernizing the online resource, Move.mil, to improve the quality of information and user experience for service members and their families as they relocate across the globe.

11. Launched Hack the Air Force 2.0 at a kick-off event hosted by HackerOne in December 2017. This was a fantastic partnership event where world-class hackers from across the globe sat alongside DoD personnel to hack away at military websites. The largest payout from the event was $10,000, awarded to a researcher for finding a method to pivot into DoD’s unclassified network from a public Air Force website.

Courtesy Photo by HackerOne — Hacker participants and DoD personnel

12. Went where the work is. The Defense Digital Service team (DDS) built an engagement tracking tool for NATO advisors in Afghanistan in support of their Train, Advise, Assist mission under Operation Resolute Support. Small teams were on rotation to work directly with users across Afghanistan. Read more about it here.

13. Made compliance less painful through technology: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Quality Payment Program, whose target is to use quality of care provided as the key indicator upon which doctors are paid, rather than simply the number of procedures performed. CMS & USDS set out to provide the information and tools clinicians’ need to ensure compliance with QPP in the simplest and most user-centric way possible.

14. Celebrated our 3rd Birthday. On August 11th, 2014, the U.S. Digital Service was founded to apply best practices in technology and design across government and improve our most important digital services. Basically, our work is all about good government. It’s not easy but it’s some of the most meaningful work around.

15. The USDS team at CMS is currently engaged in providing technical and product management support for the deployment of the Blue Button API. Currently, patients can only download or print their health records from MyMedicare.gov as text and PDF files. With the new Blue Button API, third party developers are actively building integrations that empower companies, researchers, and patients to make better decisions with their health information.

16. Celebrated Women in Computing at the Grace Hopper Conference. We kicked off our first USDS attendance two years ago with a keynote led by former United States CTO Megan Smith about our work, and last year, we hosted a Women in Government meet-up. This year, we helped officially establish Systers in Government, to continue the conversation and relationships with women across all levels of government in all countries.

17. Welcomed new USDSers! From the early days to present time, we have recruited nearly 300 engineers, designers, product managers, and more to serve tours of duty with the federal government. Our people are our greatest resource and their commitment to making government better for all is truly inspiring.

Looking ahead to 2018, we’re committed to continuing our work by prioritizing projects based on 3 main criteria: what will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people in greatest need, how effective and cost-efficient the USDS investment will be, and the potential to use or reuse a technological solution across the government.

To accomplish our mission, we need you! When you join the U.S. Digital Service, you change the lives of millions of Americans. We promise, you’ll never be the same again.