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Why tech experts should consider a job in government

By Cass Madison
November 30, 2020 | Updated on July 14, 2021

From Medicare to stimulus funding to disability payments for veterans, the federal government and the underlying technology it uses to deliver benefits and services have a profound effect on our daily lives and communities.

There has never been a more critical time for technical leaders with a deep commitment to the country to join the federal government. The question for experts in the technology field isn’t, “How can I make this leap?” Right now, the question is “How can I not?”

Our government needs employees and leaders who understand the importance of technology and who can help provide delivery-driven policies and digital initiatives, prevent systemic failures, fix broken services, improve cybersecurity and protect privacy rights. We also need those in government who can leverage rapidly developing technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science.

The government’s need for tech-savvy leaders and employees is growing as more and more services are provided and policies implemented through the use of technology. Failing to build a high performing technology workforce could not only mean less efficient services, but it will increase the possibility of failures and inefficiencies.

Technologists should consider public service where the impact can be immense and where the need has never been greater. Technical leaders who are dedicated to the public good can help build a better digital government and lend a fresh perspective to improving or modernizing outdated processes.  

How do we know this can work? Simply put, we’ve been here before. Our government has faced similar challenges in the past and found meaningful paths forward through technology. In 2013, for example, Healthcare.gov was launched with the hope of being a one-stop-shop for Americans to register and purchase healthcare for themselves and their families. The initial enrollment for HealthCare.gov was marred by server overloads, website crashes and an overall frustrating experience. As a result, more than 2.8 million Americans visited the website on the first day, with only six people completing the sign-up process.

HealthCare.gov’s initial failures pushed the government to reassess and build a broad, sturdy technology foundation for future policies and projects. A key factor in this response was an influx of knowledgeable, talented individuals.

There are many ways technology experts can serve. The Tech Talent Project, for example, is currently developing a network of technology leaders who are ready for a tour of duty in America’s public agencies. It will not be easy or quick, but service creates opportunities to tangibly improve the lives of real people and lay the foundation for future solutions. Now, more than ever, technologists should consider answering the government’s call to service.

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

Cass Madison headshot

Cass Madison is acting executive director for the Tech Talent Project. She has spent the past 15 years ensuring that big ideas get implemented in a way that drives innovation, improves the lives of those accessing services and builds a positive culture in the workplace.