Marcy Jacobs, executive director of Digital Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs, discusses how the department is modernizing the services it provides to veterans, and how her team navigates the procurement process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress on attaining the goals set out in the President’s Management Agenda, and the VA’s Digital Service team is leading the charge. The group’s latest success is consolidating several VA websites into a single portal at Vets.gov. Marcy Jacobs, executive director of Digital Service at VA, said that the team worked well on Vets.gov because they were in tune with veterans’ needs. “We start [from] a research standpoint. That is a mix of research and one‑on‑one with users, we do about 10 to 15 sessions every week, that are anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on chatty people are.” Jacobs said. “But, we also look at what’s coming through the contact centers of which we have many, coming in through Congress, coming in through the veteran’s service organizations, to really understand ‘what are the pain points?’ We also partner with the businesses and with the administrations to understand ‘what are the challenges that they are facing and how do we align what veterans are asking for, and what our specialty areas are with solving those needs.”