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Improving Federal Government Services

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Feb 2016, Government Transformation conference

Sarah will tell the story about how innovation was inspired at the Federal Government. She will explore what 18F is and how this internal digital agency was formed within government. She will highlight a specific project that has been incredibly successful at encouraging collaboration between federal government employees from different agencies around task sharing. Sarah will also discuss how Open Source software is used by 18F and what impact that has had.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Improving Federal Government Services

  1. 1. Improving Federal Government Services people. practices. impact. culture. W Sarah Allen 18F @ultrasaurus | sarah.allen@gsa.gov
  2. 2. What is 18F? A brief history...
  3. 3. to transform how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Mission
  4. 4. Put the needs of the American people first. Design-centric, agile, open, and data-driven. Always be shipping. How?
  5. 5. Delivery is the strategy.
  6. 6. Changing Culture “Most people will shift their thinking only after new behaviors have led to results that matter—and thereby been validated” —Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks/ar/1
  7. 7. Delivery is the strategy. Just start. MVP. Iterate. Learn. Do it again.
  8. 8. transforming how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Think like a designer. human-centered approach decisions are driven by the needs of the people
  9. 9. transforming how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Agile practices. build, measure, repeat quick feedback loops “fail small”
  10. 10. transforming how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Data-driven. analytics to support user needs measure everything API-first
  11. 11. transforming how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Open by default. working in the open open source transparency & evangelism
  12. 12. transforming how the U.S. Government builds, buys, and shares digital services. Be the change. lead by example instruction hands-on assistance
  13. 13. Unlike most government programs, 18F does not rely on annual appropriations from Congress. We recover costs from federal agencies, who pay us for services rendered.
  14. 14. California has 500,000 allegations of child abuse and neglect every year. Federal Government provides funds for state child welfare, including for IT systems.
  15. 15. Estimated cost of upgrading the legacy CA system: $400M-$500M including 50% federal match.
  16. 16. Estimated cost of upgrading the legacy CA system: $400M-$500M including 50% federal match. “Too Important to Fail” High Risk of Failure
  17. 17. 18F’s RFP Ghostwriting team... transformed 1500-page RFP into two initial 70 page, modular RFPs revised the state’s Terms & Conditions for greater competitiveness want to work with us? inquiries18F@gsa.gov
  18. 18. State Government leaders, CfA, and others working together ... want to work with us? inquiries18F@gsa.gov
  19. 19. We also make software...
  20. 20. We start with a problem…
  21. 21. only 37%of federal employees surveyed believe creativity & innovation are rewarded. Employee Viewpoint Survey 2014
  22. 22. almost 1M federal employees believe creativity & innovation are rewarded.
  23. 23. almost 1M federal employees believe creativity & innovation are rewarded. These employees are the target audience.
  24. 24. Cross-team collaboration increases the impact of federal workers while providing professional development opportunities.
  25. 25. Delivery is the strategy.
  26. 26. Design human experiences. Software drives scale. How?
  27. 27. Cultures Evolve Over Time “Cultures do evolve over time… the best you can do is work with and within them, rather than fight them…. When a few key behaviors are emphasized heavily, employees will often develop additional ways to reinforce them.“ —Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks/ar/1
  28. 28. Culture Change Focus on Key Behaviors Work With and Within Existing Culture Identify Positive Culture Traits
  29. 29. Mission-driven service. What is our culture?
  30. 30. Mission-driven service. Data-driven learning. What is our culture?
  31. 31. We need to rapidly disseminate lessons learned from early adopters..., participate in open source communities, leverage public crowdsourcing, and launch shared government-wide solutions and contract vehicles. — Digital Government Strategy May 2012
  32. 32. Stakeholders at Every Level Unions Employees Supervisors & Managers Senior Executives Supporter Senior Administrators
  33. 33. Employees Supervisors & Managers Senior Executives Senior Administrators It often starts with one person.
  34. 34. Employees Supervisors & Managers Senior Executives Senior Administrators who forms a team
  35. 35. Open Source
  36. 36. What is Open Source? Open source software is software whose source code is available for modification or enhancement by anyone.
  37. 37. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPEN SOURCE
  38. 38. OPEN SOURCE SINCE 1970s
  39. 39. OPEN SOURCE PUBLISHING
  40. 40. GOVCODE.ORG HELPS WITH GOVERNMENT PROJECT DISCOVERY
  41. 41. How do we use Open Source at 18F? ● We create it ● We consume it ● We contribute to it ● We create a community around it
  42. 42. We create it ● With a few exceptions, everything we do is open source ● We work in the open
  43. 43. We create it ● With a few exceptions, everything we do is open source ● We work in the open ● Our projects are available for other people to modify and use for their own purposes
  44. 44. Code can be “forked” and reused
  45. 45. We consume it ● All our work is built on open source platforms: Ruby + Rails, Python + Django/Flask, NodeJS, Ubuntu Linux, Elasticsearch, Postgres, MySQL ● We use hundreds of modules & libraries (gems, packages, etc)
  46. 46. Gems!
  47. 47. We consume it ● All our work is built on open source platforms: Ruby + Rails, Python + Django/Flask, NodeJS, Ubuntu Linux, Elasticsearch, Postgres, MySQL ● We use hundreds of modules & libraries (gems, packages, etc) ● We “fork” other civic engagement open source projects
  48. 48. We contribute to it We contribute to projects we use, modifying and improving the code.
  49. 49. We create a community around it
  50. 50. by the people, for the people 18F.gsa.gov Sarah Allen, 18F sarah.allen@gsa.gov @ultrasaurus

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