White House creates strike team to improve government technology

The White House is creating a permanent technology strike force to head off serious malfunctions like the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov, the administration announced Monday.

The team — dubbed the U.S. Digital Service — will be a small group of engineers and programmers tasked with making federal websites more consumer friendly, identifying and fixing underlying tech issues, and helping to upgrade the government's technology infrastructure.

"The team has one core mission: to improve and simplify the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government," the White House said in a statement.

The team will be let by Mikey Dickerson, a Google engineer who spearheaded the technical effort to repair the administration's healthcare website. 

The White House did not disclose the size of the new office, though U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel described it as "modest" in Senate testimony earlier this year.

"The Digital Service will establish standards to bring the Government’s digital services in line with the best private sector service experiences, define common platforms for re-use that will provide a consistent user experience, collaborate with agencies to identify gaps in their delivery capacity to design, develop, and deploy excellent citizen-facing services, and provide oversight and accountability to ensure we see results," VanRoekel said.

In November, President Obama blasted technical glitches affecting the ObamaCare website as "inexcusable" and said he was "very frustrated" the technology wasn't working better.

“There are a whole range of things we're going to need to do once we get this fixed, to talk about federal procurement when it comes to IT and how that's organized,” Obama told a group of top donors and supporters at an Organizing for Action dinner in Washington.