Matt Cutts, who joined Google in January 2000 and lead Google's web spam efforts, announced on his blog he is leaving Google for a short period of time to help the US Digital Service department, specifically the Defense Digital Service at the Pentagon.
He said this has been something he has been thinking about for a while and he wants to make a difference here. He said the projects and team are "contagious."
He said he will be doing this for the "next few months" while on an additional leave from Google. In July 2014 Matt Cutts took a leave from Google and since then, has extended his leave for some time. His job there was eventually replaced but we haven't heard since of his status. We knew he was still getting medical coverage from the company. I guess now, he is really taking a full leave from Google to work with this team.
Matt Cutts posted a bit more detail on Hacker News about this:
At the risk of wading into a fraught discussion, here's an example from yesterday: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/802828/cart... . Bug bounty programs have proven very effective in private industry (e.g. when Chrome pays security researchers who find vulnerabilities). The Defense Digital Service just completed one of the first bug bounty programs for the federal government. This is my personal opinion, but if bug bounty programs become more common in the government, that would mean that lots more people would be protected from hacks or identity theft.
To give another example that's under the umbrella of the US Digital Service, https://www.vets.gov/playbook/ is an attempt to bring resources for veterans into a single website. Right now, veterans may have to navigate 1000+ websites, 956 different 1-800 numbers, and just deal with more hassle than they should.
I interviewed at the US Digital Service but ended up at the Defense Digital Service because that's where I thought I could help the most. There's some good info about the sort of projects that people at the USDS/DDS work on at https://www.usds.gov/work if anyone is interested. 18F at https://18f.gsa.gov/ is also doing great work, with the extra benefit that people can work for the 18F remotely. 18F has also been a proponent for more open source in the government: https://fcw.com/articles/2016/03/25/noble-open-code.aspx
Honestly, I am not surprised by this move from Cutts. I always thought he'd want to help with government issues.