This Week’s IDEA

Who’s on Your Digital Dream Team?

Getting the right skills, talent, leadership, and support in place to build winning digital tools and services
197 views
Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.—Vince Lombardi, National Football League (NFL) coach

Welcome to This Week’s IDEA, where we talk about one essential topic around 21st Century IDEA and share resources and tools that you can use to start making small, incremental changes to your websites and digital services.

21st Century IDEA aims to improve executive agency digital services. But it’s really hard to build winning digital tools and services when you don’t have the right skills on your team. So today we’re asking, what are the key skill sets that every digital organization needs on their digital dream team?

Key Roles for Digital Services

Everything is much easier if you start with an effective governance structure, one that clarifies the roles of all the players on your team, including executives, coaches, and players. You’ll need executive-level support from an agency Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Customer Officer (sometimes called a Chief Experience Officer), and Chief Communications Officer. You’ll also need coaches who determine strategic direction and oversee day-to-day management, such as the agency Web (or Digital) Director and Digital Communications Strategist.

Then, of course, you need a team with the right mix of skills. These are the key players every web or digital team needs to build and deliver useful information and services:

  • Customer Experience Specialist - Ensures digital services are designed to flow in a logical manner, from start to finish (including across channels), to help customers complete their task as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Designer - Helps define users, problems, and potential solutions. (Note that, even with a design system, you still need a designer.)
  • Developer - Builds digital tools that work well, and are accessible and easy to use.
  • Digital Analyst - Ensures digital services are achieving their goals and objectives, and provides insights to improve customer experience across all channels.
  • IT Accessibility Specialist - Ensures systems and content meet Section 508 requirements, and are designed for ease of use by all persons, regardless of ability.
  • Social Media Manager - Engages customers and promotes products and services via social channels.
  • User Experience Specialist - Engages real users to observe behaviors, understand expectations, and design digital products to meet user needs.
  • Writer or Editor (Digital Content) - Develops and curates content that is written for the web, and easy to find, understand, and use.

Every web or digital team also needs support from key players with agency-wide roles and responsibilities such as:

  • 508 Program Manager - Coordinates the implementation of agency-wide IT accessibility programs. Visit Section508.gov to find your 508 program manager.
  • Contracting Officer (Digital Services) - Understands how to craft IT support contracts to support effective digital service delivery. Coordinates with the Contracting Officer’s Representative and Project Manager on the web/digital team.
  • Information System Security Officer - Maintains the appropriate operational security posture for any information system or program. Reach out to your agency’s CIO team to learn more and find your security officer.
  • Privacy Officer - Protects privacy for any individual whose personal information is handled by the agency. Visit the Federal Privacy Council’s website to find your privacy officer.
  • Records Officer - Oversees agency records management programs and coordinates with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Visit Archives.gov to find your agency records officer.

How to Fill the Roles

If you are missing one of these key roles, review these Sample Position Descriptions for Digital Government Jobs. They can help you recruit new team members with the skills you need to build out your roster. (And if you have a sample position description to share, please send it to us, so we can add it to this list!)

You can also post a task on Open Opportunities to fill any short-term gaps and needs. Open Opportunities offers an easy way for you to tap into talent and expertise while offering professional development to fellow feds.

Another option is partnering with an office like the U.S. General Services Administration’s 18F or Centers of Excellence (CoE) or with the U.S. Digital Service (USDS). They are staffed by federal employees who work with other agencies to fix technical problems, build products, and improve how government serves the public through technology.

Contracts are another great way to build your team. The federal government encourages us to contract with small businesses to buy products and services. Small business set-asides help provide a level playing field for small businesses and are often an easy way to build your team quickly. The GSA Schedule - IT Category is also a popular way to buy technology products and services.

Now’s the Time

Now, more than ever, government must up our game to deliver seamless, effective digital services. We can only do that when we have the right skills, talent, leadership, and support—so get out there and recruit some all-stars!

Up Next

Now’s the best time to take some self-paced online courses!

From the Field

“[O]ver the next 5 years at USAID, [I] learned that anything was possible within the government. That is, as long as I could keep up the stamina to push past a bureaucracy accustomed to doing things one way and uncomfortable taking unnecessary risk. I received my best advice on my first day in government when my boss told me to use the bureaucracy to my advantage — that when I am told that I can’t do something, to find another opinion, another person willing to work with me to get it done.” —via U.S. Digital Service


Do you have a 21st Century IDEA-related comment or question? Or would you like to give a shout out to your colleagues? Send it to us at digitalgov@gsa.gov, and we’ll work to incorporate it into the next newsletter.

Editor’s note: The IT Category Schedule is managed by GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). 18F and the CoE are part of the Technology Transformation Services (TTS) within FAS. Digital.gov is also part of TTS.