Marina Martin: Building A New Digital Service At VA

Adam Mazmanian | FCW | December 19, 2014

As chief technology officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs for the past year and a half, Marina Martin has been streamlining VA's disparate online customer relationships into a service that is focused on veterans.  The effort will kick into high gear in 2015 for a couple of reasons. First, VA Secretary Bob McDonald is in the midst of a reorganization designed to make the department more responsive and its online services easier to navigate.

Second, Martin is leading the charge to bring in a new digital services team at VA. She's taking applications for founding members who will be hired for two-year appointments (with the possibility of a four-year extension) at GS-15 pay levels.  The approach mirrors that of the General Services Administration's 18F and the Office of Management and Budget's U.S. Digital Service. The idea is to bring in a group of outside technologists with experience in the latest tools, agile work styles and design principles, and disseminate that expertise throughout large government organizations.

Martin won't say how many people she plans to hire but said the founding group will be in the "high double digits" -- enough people to break into subteams to work on high-impact mission areas such as modernizing the delivery of health care and benefits and improving the digital experience.  Martin spoke with FCW's Adam Mazmanian by phone on Dec. 17. The interview has been edited for clarity...