May 14, 2021 - Technology

Nonprofits spend to lure tech experts into public service

Illustration of the Statue of Liberty holding an arrow cursor instead of a torch.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The nonprofit world is pouring money into efforts to get qualified science and technology experts into posts in federal and local government.

Driving the news: The Day One Project, an initiative backed by the Federation of American Scientists, has raised $650,000 with an ultimate goal of raising $4 million to send people on "tours of duty" in the federal government.

  • Those people will be working on projects including technology modernization, climate change and pandemic response, according to an announcement exclusively shared with Axios.
  • The Knight Foundation also announced this week a $1 million investment in Code for America to fund training for "Tech Brigades" working for local government in Miami, Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Paul and Boulder.

The big picture: These are the latest in a long series of efforts to get tech experts into the federal government.

  • The Day One Project's program, called the Day One Talent Hub, aims to be a resource for getting qualified experts into public service. Such efforts are often too time-intensive and complicated for federal agencies to take on themselves.
  • The Biden administration has shown an appetite for modernizing the federal government and investing in research and development, said Matt Cutts, who left his post as administrator of the U.S. Digital Service in April. "It seems like this administration is receptive to ways to use technology and design to improve delivery to the American public."

What they're saying: "Frankly, we need a full court press with all different kinds of initiatives because it's unclear what the best or right way is to bring people in. But the the more exposure we can get between the worlds of technology and government, the better it is for everybody," Cutts said.

  • The Day One Project, which has published policy proposals and memos for the Biden administration, will place experts in temporary government jobs through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program, which helps place people in temporary government jobs.
  • "For many talented people, a period of public service can be the most impactful and satisfying part of their career,” said Arati Prabhakar, former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Day One Project council member.
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