Volunteer Oath

About Us

We put experienced, pro bono technologists to work with governments responding to the COVID-19 crisis, to help deliver critical services to the people who need them. We’re non-partisan, fast and free. Please read more about the U.S. Digital Response (USDR) effort and our mission and values here: www.usdigitalresponse.org/about

About Volunteers Needed

Right now, the federal, state, and local government need volunteers who can fill a variety of roles as the COVID-19 crisis escalates. We recognize skills our community possesses — technology, data analytics, and online support — are needed in supporting roles in response to this crisis. Technical needs range from creating new systems to manage COVID-19 testing requests, to supporting marketing and content development for local websites that are now overloaded. Importantly, volunteers need to be willing to work within legacy technical systems and constraints that many governments operate within.  Keep reading to determine if volunteering for the COVID-19 USDR is a good fit for you.

About You

Perhaps more important than hard skills you have is the attitude and emotional intelligence you bring to the work in a high-intensity environment. Great USDR volunteers will:

  • Recognize that we as volunteers and technologists are in a support role. Our job is to support those on the front line of the crises. They are the heroes. Our job is to be heroic and focused in our support of them.
  • Assume positive intent. Public servants operate under constraints but are almost always doing their best, and honor that.
  • Follow and listen to directions, and implement feedback quickly.
  • Have the humility and confidence to do whatever is needed, at all levels of a project or organization. You’re someone who will carry boxes, and also knows when to step up to lead with grace if there’s a gap, and defer when there is not.
  • Be extremely detail-oriented.
  • Have high ethical standards and a deep passion for supporting your community members.
  • Be willing to push for change where you can (e.g., let’s move away from expensive vendor solutions that will take months to configure), but you also recognize that especially in this crisis, your number one job is to help save lives. That means you’re willing to get off your soapbox and work within legacy systems and very real technical, legal, and capacity constraints.
  • Have high velocity: get into a mindset that speed in delivering value is critical. Things change every few days in terms of what people need, and what the challenges are. Be able to show early progress on whatever those goals end up being.
  • Come to the table asking “how can I help” as opposed to “why aren’t we doing it a different way?”
  • Not volunteer for credit, self-promotion, or other individual advances, but be here for the work and to help others.

The COVID-19 U.S. Digital Response Team Oath

As a COVID-19 USDR Team volunteer, I promise to:

  • Do what is needed most — even if that is unglamorous. I will be the person who’s willing to carry the boxes, refill the water, and order lunch (and whatever the digital equivalent is).
  • Always start by asking how I can help, before offering new ways of doing things.
  • See what other projects, people, or leaders might be working in a related space — and consider how we can work together, if feasible and possible — before getting started
  • Ask “why” when I don’t understand, recognizing that everyone’s ideas, skills, and contributions have value.
  • Listen more than I speak.
  • Recognize the sensitivity of this time and work and to not speak about it publicly without express permission of project owners.
  • Update USDR of any changes to the status of my project and report any issues with my placement to USDR as soon as possible.
  • Understand our mission, values, and development guidelines, agree to them yourself and help us all abide by them.
  • Be a great communicator — there will be a lot of moving pieces and email threads you’ll be dropped into. Keep the USDR updated on your work, share your learnings proactively, identify ways we can work more effectively or have more impact, and ask for help when you need it.
  • Contribute to and uphold an environment free of harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, color, veteran status, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, medical condition, national origin, marital status, or any other characteristics protected under federal or state law or local ordinance.


As a COVID-19 USDR Team volunteer:

  • I understand and agree that I am not employed by USDR or any potential placement. I understand and acknowledge that I will not be paid for my services and that I have no expectation of compensation or benefits in exchange for such services. I further understand and acknowledge that I am volunteering for a charitable purpose only and not for other purposes.
  • INDEMNIFICATION –  I understand and agree that the Partner and I are responsible for managing the project and the outcome of the project depends on the collaboration between me and the Partner. I further understand and agree that USDR is not responsible for my activities, services, or duties as a volunteer under this Oath or for the services I perform for government entities partnering with USDR. I understand and agree to assume all risks of injury or death associated with my activities, services, or duties as a volunteer under this Oath and in connection with the services I perform for government entities partnering with USDR. I will release, defend, indemnify, keep and hold harmless USDR, its employees, agents and other volunteers, from all damages, judgments, expenses (including reasonable attorney fees), costs or liabilities in law or equity arising out of my negligent or intentional acts while acting as a volunteer under this Oath.
  • I understand and acknowledge that USDR has no control over and is not liable for the conduct of the employees of government entities that partner with USDR (“Partners”). If I believe I have been subject to harassment or discrimination of any kind, or any conduct that violates USDR’s or the Partner’s policies, I will immediately report the facts of the conduct to my USDR volunteer coordinator. Similarly, if I believe that any other unlawful conduct has occurred when volunteering with the Partner (including, but not limited to, harassment or discrimination against employees or violations of any other state or federal law), I will immediately report the facts of the conduct to my USDR volunteer coordinator.
  • I understand that this work may expose me to sensitive and confidential information. I agree to hold all such confidential or proprietary information in the strictest confidence and not to disclose it to any person, firm or corporation or to use it except as necessary in carrying out my volunteer work for USDR and for USDR’s Partners.
  • I warrant that the information I provided to USDR in my application and, at all other times, will be true, accurate, current and complete. I also represent and warrant that I will keep this information accurate and up-to-date at all times.


The USDR team reserves the right to ask anyone in violation of these policies not to participate in USDR projects, events, and digital forums. If asked to leave a project or forum, you are expected to fully transition any information to a member of the USDR core team and to exit any external convos with grace, humility, and professionalism.

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