The following is an excerpt from an opinion essay written by Jennifer Pahlka, executive director of Code for America, and published Friday by USA Today.
Americans have neglected the machinery of government for more than a generation, which has had a corrosive effect on our democracy. When government fails to deliver on its promises, people lose faith — in our leaders, in our ability to address problems, and in our institutions.
The Digital Service Act introduced last month by Sen. Kamala Harris would invest $65 million a year in federal, state and local digital teams to improve government systems that deliver services to consumers. The goal is to address government’s well-known shortcomings in technology. While the Harris proposal can’t do it alone, it’s a big step in the right direction and we need many more like it.
But to see this as a technology bill misses the point. What’s at stake here is much more than technology; it’s the very foundations of our democracy.
Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America. As the U.S. deputy chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2013 to 2014, she designed and helped found the United States Digital Service.