The White House wants to poach 500 elite tech recruits from companies like Google and Facebook by the end of 2016 — here's how they plan to do it

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Washington wants to overhaul its tech scene and bring it into the 21st century — and it's recruiting the country's top tech talent to do it.

"If you're an impact junkie, this is your Mt. Everest," former US chief technology officer and White House tech adviser Todd Park said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival last week.

After rebooting the troubled Healthcare.gov site by bringing in a small task force from the private tech sector, including Park, the White House decided to replicate its rescue plan and parachute top tech talent into high-impact projects like the Affordable Care Act, veterans' affairs, social security, student loans, and immigration.

That task force is now known as the United States Digital Service (USDS), while 18F, another entity that works within the government to fix tech problems, builds products, and consults for government agencies that ask the team for help.

The White House needs to hire fast if it's going to keep up with demand. According to Park, the White House plans to hire 500 tech recruits by the end of 2016, and demand for USDS and 18F support are 20 times what they can currently handle.

Since President Barack Obama mandated the government's tech overhaul, 250 tech recruits have been hired, Park says, and 75 more are on their way.

How do they plan to do it? They're using Silicon Valley hiring tacticsto find people as driven by the mission as they are.

Related -- Photos from the recent White House State Dinner:

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White House State Dinner
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The White House wants to poach 500 elite tech recruits from companies like Google and Facebook by the end of 2016 — here's how they plan to do it
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan as they arrive for a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, on the North Portico of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, second from right, wave on the North Portico with wives Peng Liyuan, left, and first lady Michelle Obama as they arrive for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
First lady Michelle Obama, left, adjusts the tie of President Barack Obama as they await the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan as they arrive for a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, on the North Portico of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Ne-Yo performs in the East Room for those who attended the State Dinner for President Xi of China at the White House on September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a toast during a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Ne-Yo performs in the East Room during the State Dinner for President Xi of China at the White House on September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
Larry Ellison, Executive Chairman and CTO, Oracle, walks with Nikita Kahn (center) after arriving for the State Dinner for President Xi of China at the White House on September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: President Barack Obama hosts a state dinner for President Xi Jinping of China at the White House September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. The two leaders will tackle a range of issues including regional tensions in Asia and cyber crimes. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: President Xi Jinping of China speaks at a state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. The two leaders will tackle a range of issues including regional tensions in Asia and cyber crimes. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China exchange toasts during a state dinner at the White House September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. The two leaders will tackle a range of issues including regional tensions in Asia and cyber crimes. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama toast during a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan for a State Dinner, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, on the North Portico of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, arrive for a State Dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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Recruits come from all over Silicon Valley: Josh Miller, formerly a product manager at Facebook, is now director of product at the White House, while David Recordon, who was Facebook's engineering director, serves as the White House's director of information technology. And Mikey Dickerson, administrator of the USDS, is an ex-Google engineer.

"Some of you, not all of you, are working right now on another app for people to share pictures of food or a social network for dogs," he told an audience at his 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival talk, "How Government Fails and How You Can Fix It." "I am here to tell you that your country has a better use for your talents."

The tech coalition started recruiting as soon as it had the idea to build a special team inside government to fix its most important services, Haley Van Dyck, deputy administrator of the USDS, tells Business Insider.

The team's two biggest questions at the time were whether they'd get enough traction within the government to be able to start delivering results, and if it was possible to find the caliber of talent in people who are are interested in coming into government to help them solve the problems.

This is not a surprising concern, considering the number of millennials in the federal government is at itslowest levels in five years, according to a recent Deloitte report, and the jury's still out on whether it's harder to recruit millennials for public service than previous generations.

"We have nothing to compete on in terms of compensation packages that compare to where the talent's coming from," Van Dyck says. "But what we do have and we find is resonating highly with recruits is mission."

She adds: "Our competitive advantage — competing with the sunshine and tacos and free dry cleaning and healthcare and everything from the Googles and Facebooks of the world — is that mission: that you can actually put your engineering and your design and your product management skill sets to work for something larger than how are you optimizing clicks on Facebook."

Related -- Photos of Mark Zuckerberg from over the years:

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Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook CEO - co-founder
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The White House wants to poach 500 elite tech recruits from companies like Google and Facebook by the end of 2016 — here's how they plan to do it
The Facebook founder announced his daughter Max's birth in a note on the website. (Photo via Facebook)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asks a question during the CEO Summit of the Americas panel discussion in Panama City, Panama, Friday, April 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 30: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the annual one-day F8 developers conference. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 30: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening kenote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the annual one-day F8 developers conference. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote conference as part of the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2014 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the world's largest communication companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and gadgets. The show runs from February 24 - February 27. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., right, leaves a meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Zuckerberg in April announced the formation of an advocacy group, Fwd.us, to push for more visas for skilled immigrant workers. He pressed that cause yesterday in a meeting with Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook attends Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 at San Francisco Design Center on September 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., walks with his wife Priscilla Chan while arriving for a morning session during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Executives from media, finance and politics mingle at the mountain resort between presentations on business trends and social issues, brought together by New York investment banker Herb Allen. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech during a workshop for application developers in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. On his first visit to Facebook-crazy Indonesia, Zuckerberg met the president-elect, spread the word about his company's global Internet-access initiative and posted a photo of himself at an ancient Buddhist temple. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg arrive at the 2nd Annual Breakthrough Prize Award Ceremony at the NASA Ames Research Center on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by [Peter Barreras]/Invision/AP)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to students during an special assembly at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Zuckerberg participated in the assembly as part of Facebook's campaign to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math or what are otherwise known as STEM fields. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures while delivering the keynote address at the f8 Facebook Developer Conference Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., arrives to a Bloomberg television interview at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Facebook made further headway in mobile in 2014, a business that has flourished from a minor portion of ad revenue at the time of the company's initial public offering to a majority. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., left, chats with a reporter prior to a Bloomberg television interview at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Facebook made further headway in mobile in 2014, a business that has flourished from a minor portion of ad revenue at the time of the company's initial public offering to a majority. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks prior to a Bloomberg television interview at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Facebook made further headway in mobile in 2014, a business that has flourished from a minor portion of ad revenue at the time of the company's initial public offering to a majority. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Mark Zuckerberg attends the 2014 Breakthrough Prize Awards at NASA AMES Research Center on November 9, 2014 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Breakthrough Prize Co-Founders Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg attend. the Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony Hosted By Seth MacFarlane at NASA Ames Research Center on November 9, 2014 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)
Mark Zuckerberg (L), founder and CEO of Facebook, makes a courtesy call to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on October 20, 2014. Zuckerberg is here to attend a Facebook's business event for their partner companies on October 16 as a surprise guest. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg (L), founder and CEO of Facebook, makes a courtesy call to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on October 20, 2014. Zuckerberg is here to attend a Facebook's business event for their partner companies on October 16 as a surprise guest. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 13: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (R) gives a press conferrence after meeting with Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo on October 13, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mark Zukerberg is visiting Indonesia to attend Internet developers summit and meet heads of goverment. Indonesia is a country that has a population of 240 million and has approximately 60 million active users of social media (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 13: Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo (L) with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (R) at Tanah Abang Market the biggest textile market in South East Asia after meeting on October 13, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mark Zukerberg is visiting Indonesia to attend Internet developers summit and meet heads of goverment. Indonesia is a country that has a population of 240 million and has approximately 60 million active users of social media (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 13: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (R) gives a press conferrence after meeting with Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo (L) on October 13, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mark Zukerberg is visiting Indonesia to attend Internet developers summit and meet heads of goverment. Indonesia is a country that has a population of 240 million and has approximately 60 million active users of social media (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (L) walks with unidentified staff as he arrives for the launch promoting the Internet.org app in Jakarta on October 13, 2014 which allows people in underdeveloped areas to access basic online services. US-based social media Facebook founder Zuckerberg met with Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo. Indonesia, has the fourth-largest number of Facebook users in the world. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
CORRECTION Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo (L) walks next to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after a meeting in Jakarta on October 13, 2014. US-based social media Facebook founder Zuckerberg held a meeting with Indonesia president-elect Joko Widodo and attended internet.org campaign in his visit to Indonesia, the fourth-largest number of Facebook users in the world. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY (Photo credit should read ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Zuckerberg said a lack of relevant local language content is the biggest barrier to the 4.4 billion people globally who don't have Internet access. Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Zuckerberg said a lack of relevant local language content is the biggest barrier to the 4.4 billion people globally who don't have Internet access. Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Zuckerberg said a lack of relevant local language content is the biggest barrier to the 4.4 billion people globally who don't have Internet access. Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., right, talks on the phone while arriving for a morning session his wife Priscilla Chan at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 10, 2014. Technology companies from Silicon Valley are expected to take center stage at this year's Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley conference as tech and media converge. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Beyond hiring 500 people, Van Dyck says the overall goal is to create an avenue for public service that hasn't existed before in the tech realm.

But just like in Silicon Valley, Washington isn't looking to hire just anyone. Van Dyck says candidates need to be highly driven, extremely talented, and experienced folks that don't just have high IQs, but high EQ (emotional intelligence), too.

Recruits right now tend to be more senior and know how to navigate large organizations, though as the effort grows, Van Dyck says the team will look to hire more recent college graduates.

And the group isn't just hiring software engineers — they're looking for all kinds of expertise, from cybersecurity and site reliability to product design and user experience.

The hiring and interview process is comparable to what you'd see in Silicon Valley, Van Dyck says. That means lots of interview questions that focus on the technical side of things and problem solving, as well as how you communicate.

When looking for emotionally intelligent recruits, Van Dyck says selection bias works to their advantage — most people don't enter public service looking for stock options, she explains. "Most of the time you're coming in for the right reasons. You're here simply because you want to make a difference in the lives of your fellow citizens."

Working to fix the government's tech problem is less like a job and more like a public service tour of duty. On the application, recruits check their availability as "less than 6 months," "6 to 12 months," or "1 year or more," and they are encouraged to share the problems they'd like to solve.

"We the people can build a more awesome government if we just show the hell up and build with our hands and our hearts," Park tells the innovation festival audience.

"We hope you join us to kick some ass for America," he says.

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