Updated Mar 27, 2018 - Technology

U.S. Digital Service sees progress under Trump administration

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The United States Digital Service was born during the Obama era, but the federal agency still managed to advance under President Trump and complete a long list of projects in 2017, including the release of software data tools for health care companies (Blue Button 2.0), according to its latest report.

Why it matters: "One big trend that I noticed is that the longer that the Digital Service is at a particular agency…we see more and more appetite from the agency for our services," Matt Cutts, acting administrator of U.S. Digital Service, tells Axios.

Background: The U.S. Digital Service debuted in 2014 as part of the Executive Office of the President, and helps various federal agencies with improving websites and implementing technology. It was created following the technical fiasco of Healthcare.gov.

Modernizing government technology and the methods of delivering services to Americans is a bipartisan priority — and crucially needed, according to Cutts, who joined the agency in June 2016.

  • "I have to admit, I was shocked — when I started, I worked for six months at the Pentagon, and I was shocked that no one had implemented bug bounties. And they've been around since the 90s," he says, adding that the first program was put in place just a couple of months prior to his arrival.

Cutts says his biggest challenge is recruiting, similar to the issues facing the tech industry in general. He says this is a constraint that's keeping the agency from taking on as many projects as it would like.

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Sports

What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.