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US Digital Service @ Department of Defense

I am on a tour of duty with the US Digital Service team at the Pentagon: the Defense Digital Service. As the first (and so far only) designer on the team, I wear every hat. The work is unlike anything else I’ve encountered.

Our mission is to drive a giant leap forward in the way the Department of Defense builds and deploys technology and digital services. We work alongside public servants and service members, empowering them to incorporate private sector best practices and talent to build a better now.

There is not a whole lot more I can say about our work yet, but stay tuned for publicly releasable projects.


Public Projects

ANET

Design Lead (core team of 3, extended team of 8)

Link: Github

Lead the human centered design effort for the ANET program, an open source tool we created for the Train, Advise, Assist mission in Afghanistan. Initially teamed up with Hunter Pitelka (Backend) and Nick Small (Frontend) to research, design, and implement the beta version of ANET, including remote testing with NATO personnel in Kabul. As we launched in February, we got one more designer, a project manager, and a rotating team of engineers to finalizing implementation for our launch in February.

Press: OSCON talk on ANET team work by Alvand Salehi

Learning
This was a unique program, in that we were:

  • working with classified systems (though the tool is unclassified and open source)
  • working and researching remotely
  • dealing with the rapid rotation schedule of stakeholders and users
  • Designing an unclassified system that had to work with classified data

For design, e primarily used Sketch and Principle. Remote research was often done over phone and PDF, until we were able to set up Silverback to record sessions. We initially used Jira for project management, then switched fully to github. From an implementation perspective, we used dropwizard and graphql with a MSSql database to match on-site capabilities, and React for the frontend.