The sloppy look is officially in – even for officials at the White House.
Mikey Dickerson, the newly-appointed administrator of the new U.S. Digital Service, a technology corps focused on improving government IT, roams the halls of the West Wing in what might delicately be termed Zuckerbergian attire.
“People are putting up with me walking around the EEOB and the West Wing just wearing whatever,” a rumple-shirted Dickerson said in a video released recently by the White House. “I mean, not quite whatever ... I made some slight concessions.”
And in an interview with ABC News, Dickerson, who spent eight years in Silicon Valley before moving to Washington, said: “It’s not that there’s a problem with anybody wearing suits. It’s just that I don’t care.”
According to Dickerson, a more relaxed dress code could create a more collaborative culture.
“People should wear whatever is going to get their job done,” he said.
And Dickerson almost always gets the job done.
Before being named USDS administrator, the Pomona grad made a name for himself at Google’s site reliability engineering department, and did a quick stint on the data team of Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.
Last year he was drafted to the elite “trauma team” called in to overhaul the beleaguered healthcare.gov. His colleagues at HHS credit him with fixing the site, and Obama even called him a “hotshot.”
Dickerson’s success with the now-infamous website – which he lovingly calls his “government adventure” – led to a push for an IT overhaul, and the U.S. Digital Service was born.
Launched just last month, the USDS aims to do for the rest of government what the trauma team did for healthcare.gov: improve citizens’ online interactions with government agencies.
This time around, however, there’s far less media scrutiny.
“It’s much easier to work without that kind of pressure,” Dickerson told ABC. “It’s always easier to make corrections … before there’s millions of people watching.”
Dickerson and his team haven’t yet identified which agencies they’ll target first. But they have devised an official Playbook – a list of 13 best practices that read like a litany of Healthcare.gov’s failures.
Number nine suggests addressing traffic surges. Number 10 recommends frequent testing. And number six recommends “assign one leader and hold that person accountable.”
“A lot of what you see in the playbook came directly from conversations we had as we worked on Healthcare.gov,” Dickerson acknowledges. “Towards the end of that project, those of us that worked on it made a lot of observations about things that, you know, things that needed to change.”
The USDS team is also soliciting feedback on the playbook through a web collaboration platform called GitHub. And they’ve already implemented several suggestions, from aesthetic tweaks to more substantive content changes.