Star Spangled Geeks – the VA Digital Service

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Star Spangled Geeks, backchannel.com, Stephen Levy, July 19, 2016

It was August 2014, and Marina Martin was frustrated. She had been the CTO at Veteran’s Affairs for over a year. This in itself was eyebrow raising, as only two years earlier she’d been an obscure web consultant in Seattle (biggest credit: author of Business Efficiency for Dummies). Her life had taken a turn when she was asked to serve a government stint as a Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2012. After that year-long assignment, in July 2013, she was installed as VA’s CTO on an agency that was getting plastered for botching its key mission.

But she couldn’t hire anyone. Not a single engineer.

Since her arrival at the VA, Martin had realized that it would be difficult to buck the bureaucracy and introduce modern IT practices. “With any change, any kind of paradigm shift, there are — I’ll use the word — forces,” says VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson. “Maybe influences is a better world…influences invested in the way things are. It’s the way it is with everything.”

So Martin dug in for the long haul…

G2X TAKE: We are suckers for a well-written article... this piece starts with “To the dismay of government contractors, the United States Digital Service is gloriously hacking away in the VA” and proceeds to offer a retrospective on how this group has grown. With the VA Digital Service continuing to take lead on some of the new high profile projects,such as Vets.gov, it may be worth your time to get a feel for how this group operates.


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