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What's New in Civic Tech: Colorado Digital Service Picks New Lead

Plus, GAO discusses value of a federal academy for developing a pipeline of new tech talent, and the Federal Communications Commission seeks comments on its new affordable connectivity program.

The Colorado state capitol.
Damon Shaw/Shutterstock
The Colorado Digital Service has named Matthew McAllister as its next director.

McAllister takes over the role from Kelly Taylor, the agency's founding director, bringing with him experience in the Peace Corps' innovation office. He also worked as a special assistant and policy adviser to the U.S. chief technology officer in the Obama White House.

Most recently, he was a smart city project manager with Denver, before becoming a founding member of the Colorado Digital Service when it first launched back in 2019. McAllister announced his new position this week on Twitter.

The Colorado Digital Service is, according to the group's website, "a team of senior engineers, human-centered design specialists, product managers and procurement and contracting specialists." It is housed within the Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology.

To date, the service's track record includes work on a wide range of projects, including the support of contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list of other agencies that have partnered with the Colorado Digital Service is also diverse and growing, including several internal departments within the state as well as like-minded innovation offices at the federal level. (Zack Quaintance)


GAO REPORT EXPLORES EXPERT OPINIONS ON DIGITAL SERVICE ACADEMY CONCEPT


The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published a report that examines the possibility of creating an academy specifically to bring more individuals with digital expertise into the federal government workforce.

GAO began this study to help federal agencies combat challenges in hiring and retaining employees with the necessary digital skills, especially in the field of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. The purpose is to look at the possibility of forming an academy — comparable to military academies — that could create a skilled talent pool of future civil servants.

During a roundtable discussion Oct. 13, GAO gathered perspectives of chief technology officers, chief data officers, chief information officers and other representatives from government, academia and nonprofits. Sessions of discussion at the roundtable included federal workforce needs for digital services staff, key characteristics of a digital service academy and considerations to ensure agencies can absorb graduates of a digital service academy.

The full report and information about those who provided their perspectives at the roundtable can be found at GAO’s website. (Julia Edinger)


EMERGENCY BROADBAND BENEFIT TO BECOME LONGER-TERM PROGRAM, FCC SEEKS COMMENT


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act modifies and extends the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) to a longer-term program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). There will be some changes to the program, and the public can offer their opinions to the FCC about the changes for a limited time.

The program will offer similar benefits to participants, like paying up to $100 for a connected device for eligible households. However, some of the slated changes include additional consumer protection requirements, modified eligibility criteria, reduction of the standard benefit amount and more. Those who would like to provide comment must submit their initial comments by Dec. 8 and reply to comments by Dec. 28.

The FCC is seeking input on areas that range from what recertification requirements should be put in place for participating households to whether there should be minimum service requirements for a broadband service plan to be eligible for the benefit. More details can be found in the public notice released by the FCC. (Julia Edinger)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.