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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.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Beto plans Texas comeback in governor's race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.

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