I’ve joined the White House’s U.S. Digital Service

The need for effective government services is rising, while confidence in our ability to deliver them is dropping. More than ever, day-to-day interactions with government are powered by digital systems, and yet far too many Federal IT projects arrive late or over budget. Others are simply abandoned. These failures are often felt by those who count on it most ‚ÄĒ working class Americans and people who turn to government in a moment of need.
The U.S. Digital Service on whitehouse.gov

When you’re presented with an opportunity to help transform how the federal government works for the American people, it’s really hard to say no.

For five years and counting, I’ve had the honor and privilege as a lead developer of WordPress to play a role in a large, incredible movement to democratize publishing. From my home in D.C., I’ve closely watched open data and open government efforts. I feel very strongly about an open, transparent, and efficient government ‚ÄĒ boosted in no small part by WordPress and open source.

I’ve long admired a number of my new teammates,¬†especially Erie Meyer, Gray Brooks, and Haley van Dyck, for years of¬†tenacity and hard work trying to change government from the inside out. I’ve always felt I could be more effective helping government from the outside, by continuing to work on WordPress.¬†After all, we’ve all heard horror stories of all sorts of red tape, from hiring to procurement and everything in between. And we’ve all heard how difficult government itself makes it to launch good government digital services. While many of us may have have wanted to help, few thought they could. Fewer knew how.

But then the U.S. Digital Service was formed, from the team that helped rescue healthcare.gov. It’s dedicated to tackling some of government’s most pressing problems, ones that directly affect millions of people’s lives.¬†The formula¬†is simple: take¬†what helped turn around healthcare.gov and apply it to other high priority projects across government.

In this day and age, public policy must be backed by effective technology to succeed. The American people need our help and our government has asked us to serve, as doers and makers, creative thinkers, and specialized technologists dedicated to untangling, rewiring, and redesigning our government.

In January, I joined the U.S. Digital Service.

When I was approached, I have to admit that I was nervous to step back from the day-to-day buzz of WordPress because I’ve invested so much. But the community stepped up, in most cases not even knowing about my life change. That’s the beauty of open source, and the fantastic WordPress community in particular. WordPress continues to play an important role in my¬†life. With Matt Mullenweg‚Äôs support and encouragement, I’m taking time away from Audrey, where I’ve worked since 2010. I’m still actively involved in the project, just not full time.

The U.S. Digital Service is the real deal. I’ve been astounded by the impact we’ve already made. We’ve recruited some of the best and brightest. Don’t just take my word for it ‚ÄĒ do what you can to learn more about this movement and come help us make government better. If you haven’t seen the video below yet, take a look. (A few of you have¬†noticed me in the background.)

It’s my nature to look for the hardest problems to solve. I like to take on big challenges and spend every ounce of energy working to solve them. I believe in what we’re doing here. The stakes are high.¬†No matter the challenge, I know what we’re doing will change millions of lives.

I thought I had made the most of my decade in D.C. I’ve witnessed a lot of history. I knew I’d have some great stories to tell my future kids and grandkids. I was there. I saw it. That was only the beginning.

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Andrew Nacin

Lead developer of WordPress, living in Washington, D.C. Follow me on Twitter.

8 thoughts on “I’ve joined the White House’s U.S. Digital Service”

  1. Nacin! That’s fantastic! Congrats – what an amazing opportunity.

    I can’t remember *when* I read this: https://playbook.cio.gov/ But I quickly bookmarked it and have used it as a measuring stick when considering which teams to join, which partnerships to work with, and what projects to take on. I haven’t been vocal about it b/c we, the WordPressers, are so vocal about being the coveted “outliers” in the tech world – but the playbook provides solid guidelines for ANY current tech organization/partnership/project.

    I’m excited to learn you’ll be part of this team and I can’t wait to follow along on your journey! Congrats, again!

  2. Very exciting news. Kudos for saying yes and stepping up – we need more tech talent working to make delivery of our public services more effective. The Digital Service is fortunate to have you, and I have no doubt you’ll learn a lot from the experience. Best wishes on this most important of gigs, and keep us posted!

  3. Congratulations! The U.S. Digital Service is a great model for the rest of government to follow. I’m a long-time WordPress fan but never get to use it at work – I hope you’ll be able to change that!

  4. This definitely seems on order with the National Parks Service or other major domestic services that are charged with ‘cleaning up this mess’. Hopefully it will have the same scale of impact.

    My biggest hope is that this changes development culture internally as well as getting civic tech out to the millions on the final mile. A more sophisticated bureaucracy will allow every generation to make the changes necessary as problems present themselves.

    Good luck in your new role! Hopefully it doesn’t pull you too far away from the WP community.

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