Agencies are looking for more support from USWDS to identify and staff for the cross-functional design and engineering skills needed to successfully implement and maintain the design system.

Identify the right talent

Finding the necessary talent can be difficult, especially when agencies aren’t sure what they should be looking for. Many of the required skills are in specialized and constantly evolving fields such as service design, customer experience, DevOps engineering, and translation services.

Agencies face a number of obstacles trying to hire for these kinds of roles, which typically fall outside their typical position descriptions and can take months or longer to fill. Even when agencies contract with a vendor, they may lack the in-house expertise to effectively evaluate proposals and manage the work.

It would be cool if it was like “Here are companies that offer services to government and are USWDS-savvy.” Saying we know these people know USWDS — maybe a certification program, that would be amazing. — Manager
A content syndication component is more important in Spanish than English because of resource constraints. Spanish language content writers are few and far between. — Manager

Build skills at all levels

Delivering a quality digital service requires a cross-functional set of skills, and many agencies are taking it into their own hands to build these in-house capabilities where they can. For example, some agencies might host weekly lunch-and- learns about using USWDS or attend events hosted by industry leaders, local meetup groups, and communities of practice. Willingness to learn provides an opportunity for the design system to encourage and support this kind of skill-building.

Contractors are diving in deep, but on the other side it’s less ownership. How do we empower our team to become owners of USWDS? — Manager

Prioritize the right resources

The workforce capacity gap is compounded by limited resources. While there are many dedicated public servants trying to make it work with what they have, their efforts can unintentionally perpetuate the unreasonable expectation that this work be done well without the proper skills and investment.

A lot of web teams aren’t properly resourced. This stuff is hard. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of work to build something that works well and is accessible. — Civic tech leader
In some places you have one poor person who is trying to do it all. — Civic tech leader

Conversation starters

We should find ways to help agencies plan for or connect with the right people to effectively implement the design system.

  • How might we help agencies anticipate and plan for the costs and staffing needs associated with design system adoption?

  • How might we better connect specialized skill sets like security engineers or Spanish language content writers to agencies who need them?

  • How might we coordinate with other parts of TTS and digital services teams throughout government to provide support for design system adoption?