Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) today introduced legislation that would allocate millions of dollars for local governments to create dedicated teams that could “update and rebuild” government systems.
The United States Digital Service, an office established in 2014 after the widespread failures of Healthcare.gov, provides IT support for the federal government, bringing technologists into the government to work on tools like federal websites. It’s continued to operate under the Trump administration, and some states, Harris’ office notes, have experimented with similar teams.
Harris’ bill, the Digital Service Act, would provide an annual $50 million to the federal service, but it also goes further, allocating $15 million per year to state and local governments to create similar teams.
Under the plan, the national Digital Service would offer two-year grants, giving state and local governments between $200,000 and $2.5 million per year. Those governments would be required to take on 20 percent of costs and to spend at least half of the money on talent, rather than tech. The national Digital Service, under the proposal, would report bi-annually to Congress on the progress of the grantees. The bill would provide funding through 2027.
“We must do more to empower our state and local governments to tap into the power of technology to provide seamless, cost-effective services for the 21st century,” Harris, one of the leading 2020 presidential candidates, said in a statement. “The Digital Service Act will help harness top talent for the government, save taxpayer dollars, and put the power of technology to work on behalf of the American people.”