White House launches tech fellowship program to tackle key issues

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The White House this week launched an initiative to recruit early-career technology experts into the federal government.

The US Digital Corps is a two-year fellowship program that will nurture technology skills to tackle some of the country's most pressing problems.

The initiative will use technology skills to address issues, ranging from the pandemic to racial equality, climate change, health care, cyber security, and economic recovery. The General Services Administration will house the team in its Technology Transformation Services unit.

The US Digital Corps will initially recruit 30 fellows across five agencies. In addition to the GSA, they will work at Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The idea for the initiative initially came from the Day One Project, a nonprofit that promotes policy reform with input from the science and technology community. The proposal said the initiative could help to rebuild trust in the government and create a technology talent funnel at the federal level.

Day One highlighted a shortage of technology talent at the federal level, along with an ageing workforce. The government needs to stimulate a new generation of technology workers, it said.

The initiative is a collaboration between the General Services Administration (GSA), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It will complement existing programs, including Presidential Innovation Fellows, the US Digital Service, and the GSA's technology consultancy, 18F.

Fellows will come from undergraduate and graduate degree programs, apprenticeships, and boot camps. The program doesn't require full-time work experience. They will embark on a dedicated learning curriculum with individual performance plans.

"The Digital Corps fellowship offers technologists just starting out in their career the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges that we face and develop innovative solutions that make government work better for the American people," said the GSA's administrator, Robin Carnahan.

President Biden's administration has been grappling with technology issues, including cyber security in its first eight months, prompting presidential concerns over escalating cyber conflicts and a recent meeting with tech CEOs.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.