Kostin: New innovation center product of digital evolution

Thursday - 5/31/2012, 3:37pm EDT

Gwynne Kostin, Director, Digital Services Innovation Center

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Agencies across the federal government are trying to figure out how to better deliver digital services. The Digital Services Innovation Center, stood up this month, will help draw out the best practices to capitalize on a "build once, use many times" mentality.

The center was established under the Office of Management and Budget's Digital Management Strategy that set 29 goals for agencies over the next 12 months.

Gwynne Kostin (Photo:@gwynnek Twitter)

Gwynne Kostin, who heads the innovation center within the General Services Administration, said these goals will require each agency to "get their feet wet in this space," showing progress in making services available through the web and consolidating websites.

Kostin's previous title was director of mobile in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at GSA.

The Digital Services Innovation Center's main goals are to:

  • Make open content management systems the default

    Several agencies — including the Federal Communications Commision, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency and the Energy Department — have already developed more open content management systems, Kostin said in an exclusive interview with In Depth with Francis Rose on May 25.

    The Digital Services Innovation Center will take "lessons learned" and make code sets available to other agencies, she said.

  • Make "high-value" data available through APIs

    APIs — or application programming interface — are the "secret sauce," a way to connect a database or several databases to another service, such as a website, Kostin said.

  • Help agencies in mobile app development

    The good news is mobile development is new in government and therefore developers are not tied down to a legacy system, Kostin said. But because it's an area where they probably do not have a lot of experience, agencies need help building these apps. The role of the center therefore is to be a "catalyst" and help in the building, she said.

The OMB digital strategy builds on the federal government's evolution online. Whereas agencies used to be focused more on mobile devices and apps, now the focus is on data and content.

"How do we make that information more available so that it can be delivered on any device, at anytime, anywhere ... and also, very importantly, in a secure way," she said.

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