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@codeforamerica
Technology and Trust:
The Challenge of 21st Century Government
Tim O’Reilly
@timoreilly
TEDx Market Street
May 10, 2014
codeforamerica.org
Saturday, May 10, 14
When you see the title of this talk, Technology and Trust, you perhaps think of Edward Snowden and the ongoing scandal of NSA spying on the American people and our allies. But I’m actually here
to talk about something that is perhaps even more fundamental. And it starts here...
Saturday, May 10, 14
How many of you are old enough to remember a time when you had to physically walk into a bank and talk to another human being in order to get cash?
I remember….
And that memory seems quaint to all of us because we know how much personal finance has been revolutionized over the last 25 years because of digital, networked technology.
Saturday, May 10, 14
Even a few years ago, people would have been amazed to take a picture of a check with a phone and the money will show up in their account a few hours later.
The same digital, networked technologies, it seems obvious to say, have revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives. Not just banking but everything from education
to how we interact with our friends.
Saturday, May 10, 14
But there’s one place where that revolution has largely not yet taken place: in government. This is the Department of Motor Vehicles,
which in the US is a symbol of bureaucracy. Just about everyone has to go at some point in their lives and almost no one has a good experience.
91% of Americans own a cellphone
67% use Facebook, 33% have a tablet...
Why is this how we engage with government?
Saturday, May 10, 14
And this is a microcosm of the problem we try to address at Code for America--when the tools are available for people to connect with anyone in the world and
access every piece of information one could ever want, why do we make it so hard to access government?
6
Saturday, May 10, 14
Even	
  when	
  government	
  tries	
  to	
  do	
  digital,	
  we	
  get	
  messes	
  like	
  healthcare.gov.
It	
  doesn’t	
  have	
  to	
  be	
  that	
  way.	
  	
  But	
  when	
  the	
  government	
  does	
  end	
  up	
  building	
  technology	
  that	
  doesn’t	
  work	
  and	
  costs	
  way	
  too	
  much,	
  not	
  only	
  do	
  ci@zens	
  get	
  gypped,	
  
but	
  it	
  breaks	
  our	
  trust	
  in	
  government.
7
Saturday, May 10, 14
Democracies get their strength from the people’s trust. When the interactions that people have with government are so divorced from how they live their lives, or are hard and unpleasant, what is that doing to the trust that underlies our
democracies? Obviously, the decline of trust in government has to do
with a lot of other factors besides technology, but the way government is so out of step with ordinary life certainly is symptomatic
of the deeper problem.
8
Saturday, May 10, 14
Tom	
  Steinberg,	
  founder	
  and	
  execu4ve	
  director	
  of	
  MySociety,	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  pioneers	
  of	
  the	
  open	
  government	
  movement,	
  wrote	
  “Good	
  governance...”
This	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  key	
  principles	
  that	
  we	
  work	
  from	
  at	
  Code	
  for	
  America.	
  	
  It	
  isn’t	
  just	
  a	
  maGer	
  of	
  geHng	
  smart	
  tech	
  people	
  into	
  government	
  -­‐	
  that’s	
  magical
thinking.	
  	
  We	
  need	
  to	
  completely	
  reorient	
  the	
  way	
  government	
  creates	
  policies,	
  so	
  that	
  it	
  works	
  much	
  more	
  like	
  a	
  “lean	
  startup,”	
  where	
  you	
  constantly
are	
  trying	
  to	
  learn	
  what	
  works,	
  rather	
  than	
  deciding	
  what	
  you	
  want	
  to	
  do,	
  and	
  only	
  then	
  trying	
  to	
  implement	
  it.
9
Saturday, May 10, 14
The	
  problems	
  with	
  healthcare.gov	
  were	
  made	
  worse	
  by	
  greedy	
  contractors	
  who	
  charged	
  hundreds	
  of	
  millions	
  of	
  dollars	
  (perhaps	
  up	
  to	
  a	
  billion	
  dollars	
  when	
  you
count	
  the	
  state	
  exchanges)	
  for	
  a	
  site	
  that	
  many	
  of	
  us	
  in	
  Silicon	
  Valley	
  think	
  could	
  have	
  been	
  done	
  for	
  a	
  few	
  million	
  at	
  most,	
  and	
  by	
  feckless	
  bureaucrats	
  who	
  didn’t	
  know
how	
  to	
  manage	
  the	
  project.	
  	
  But	
  the	
  problem	
  started	
  here,	
  with	
  a	
  900+	
  page	
  “specifica@on”	
  (the	
  Affordable	
  Care	
  Act)	
  plus	
  tens	
  of	
  thousands	
  of	
  pages	
  of	
  addi@onal	
  regula@ons
that	
  had	
  to	
  be	
  followed	
  to	
  the	
  leTer.	
  (By	
  contrast,	
  the	
  Interstate	
  Highway	
  Act	
  of	
  1956	
  was	
  only	
  29	
  pages	
  long.)
	
  	
  Imagine	
  that	
  Google,	
  or	
  Facebook,or	
  the	
  iPhone,	
  had	
  started	
  with	
  a	
  huge	
  specifica@on	
  wriTen	
  by	
  a	
  commiTee	
  of	
  hundreds	
  of	
  lawyers	
  
(and	
  lobbyists)	
  and	
  you	
  realize	
  where	
  the	
  real	
  problem	
  lies.	
  	
  Policy	
  people	
  at	
  the	
  top,	
  implementors	
  at	
  the	
  boTom.	
  Completely	
  the	
  inverse	
  of	
  the	
  way	
  it	
  works	
  in	
  Silicon	
  Valley.
(Lots	
  of	
  people	
  say	
  Obamacare	
  was	
  2400	
  pages	
  long.	
  This	
  is	
  incorrect.	
  For	
  details	
  on	
  the	
  page	
  count	
  of	
  Obamacare,	
  see	
  hTp://www.leadertelegram.com/blogs/tom_giffey/ar@cle_c9f1fa54-­‐d041-­‐11e1-­‐9d01-­‐0019bb2963f4.html	
  and	
  hTp://
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-­‐checker/post/how-­‐many-­‐pages-­‐of-­‐regula@ons-­‐for-­‐obamacare/2013/05/14/61eec914-­‐bcf9-­‐11e2-­‐9b09-­‐1638acc3942e_blog.html	
  )
10
Saturday, May 10, 14
The	
  UK’s	
  Government	
  Digital	
  Service	
  is	
  the	
  best	
  example	
  of	
  a	
  government	
  agency	
  that	
  is	
  doing	
  things	
  right.	
  	
  One	
  secret	
  to	
  its	
  success	
  is	
  that
Mike	
  Bracken,	
  the	
  head	
  of	
  the	
  GDS,	
  reports	
  in	
  at	
  the	
  highest	
  level	
  of	
  government,	
  and	
  has	
  a	
  seat	
  at	
  the	
  table	
  in	
  shaping	
  policies	
  that	
  affect	
  digital	
  services.
In	
  the	
  past	
  couple	
  of	
  years,	
  the	
  GDS	
  has	
  replaced	
  something	
  like	
  1700	
  bad	
  government	
  web	
  sites	
  with	
  one	
  that	
  has	
  more	
  usage	
  
than	
  all	
  1700	
  combined	
  had	
  before.	
  The	
  service	
  has	
  had	
  ci@zen	
  sa@sfac@on	
  go	
  through	
  the	
  roof,	
  and	
  has	
  won	
  plaudits	
  from	
  everyone.
11
Saturday, May 10, 14
The	
  GDS	
  has	
  aGracted	
  a	
  talented	
  team	
  of	
  technologists	
  and	
  has	
  been	
  described	
  as	
  “the	
  hoGest	
  startup	
  in	
  London.”	
  	
  But	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  most	
  important	
  things	
  they’ve
done	
  is	
  to	
  rethink	
  how	
  to	
  design	
  government	
  digital	
  services.	
  	
  The	
  GDS	
  Design	
  Principles	
  are,	
  in	
  my	
  opinion,	
  the	
  most	
  important	
  user	
  interface	
  document	
  since
the	
  original	
  Macintosh	
  User	
  Interface	
  Guidelines,	
  which	
  set	
  the	
  tone	
  for	
  the	
  mouse	
  and	
  window	
  era	
  of	
  compu4ng.
A	
  lot	
  of	
  our	
  work	
  at	
  Code	
  for	
  America	
  is	
  informed	
  by	
  the	
  UK’s	
  Government	
  Digital	
  Service	
  Design	
  Principles.
12
Saturday, May 10, 14
The	
  first	
  of	
  these	
  is	
  to	
  start	
  with	
  needs	
  -­‐	
  user	
  needs,	
  not	
  government	
  needs.	
  	
  This	
  is	
  so	
  cri@cal.	
  	
  The	
  GDS	
  works	
  a	
  lot	
  like	
  any	
  Silicon	
  Valley
startup.	
  	
  They	
  iden@fy	
  a	
  problem	
  area,	
  and	
  learn	
  how	
  to	
  solve	
  it	
  incrementally,	
  with	
  a	
  build-­‐measure-­‐learn	
  cycle.
13
Saturday, May 10, 14
Code	
  for	
  America	
  follows	
  the	
  same	
  approach.
Our	
  flagship	
  program	
  is	
  our	
  Fellowship,	
  which	
  brings	
  talented	
  startup	
  teams	
  into	
  ci4es	
  for	
  a	
  year	
  to	
  
develop	
  innova4ve	
  solu4ons,	
  but	
  perhaps	
  more	
  importantly,	
  to	
  teach	
  city	
  partners	
  how	
  to	
  think	
  about	
  a	
  more	
  modern,
user-­‐centric	
  approach	
  to	
  government	
  technology.
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
A great example of how our Fellowship teams apply the GDS Design Principles is a project that we did in 2012 in Honolulu,
where we worked on a project to improve the city’s website.
Saturday, May 10, 14
With	
  only	
  three	
  fellows,	
  they	
  couldn’t	
  take	
  on	
  the	
  task	
  of	
  rebuilding	
  the	
  content	
  for	
  the	
  en@re	
  website.	
  So	
  what	
  they	
  did	
  instead	
  was	
  
to	
  build	
  a	
  site	
  that	
  beTer	
  conformed	
  to	
  the	
  way	
  people	
  look	
  for	
  informa@on.	
  They’re	
  usually	
  looking	
  for	
  quick	
  answers	
  or	
  steps	
  for	
  ac@on	
  
they	
  need	
  to	
  take	
  and	
  a	
  site	
  that	
  looks	
  like	
  this	
  is	
  really	
  frustra@ng	
  to	
  navigate.	
  	
  How	
  ojen	
  have	
  you	
  come	
  to	
  a
government	
  website	
  like	
  this,	
  full	
  of	
  press	
  releases	
  (mee@ng	
  government	
  needs,	
  not	
  ci@zen	
  needs).
Saturday, May 10, 14
So	
  they	
  built	
  Honolulu	
  Answers,	
  a	
  super-­‐simple	
  and	
  elegant	
  search	
  interface	
  that	
  allows	
  ci@zens	
  to	
  enter	
  keywords	
  or	
  ques@ons	
  and	
  get	
  quick	
  answers.
17
Saturday, May 10, 14
They applied another one of the GDS design principles, to design with data.
They mined the visitor logs of the existing site and the city’s call center to find out what people are really looking for,
instead of what government departments want to say about themselves. And one of the things that they found was that
driver’s license information was one of the top searches. (In Hawaii, the city manages this for the state.)
18
Saturday, May 10, 14
Take	
  a	
  look	
  at	
  the	
  city’s	
  exis@ng	
  start	
  page	
  of	
  driver’s	
  license	
  informa@on,	
  complete	
  with	
  such	
  “need	
  to	
  know”	
  informa@on	
  as	
  the
fact	
  that	
  the	
  driver’s	
  licensing	
  sta@ons	
  have	
  a	
  new	
  statewide	
  computer/camera	
  licensing	
  system!	
  We	
  even	
  have	
  a	
  link	
  to	
  a	
  picture	
  of	
  
a	
  driver’s	
  license.	
  	
  But	
  the	
  informa@on	
  about	
  how	
  to	
  get	
  one	
  is	
  hard	
  to	
  find.	
  	
  That’s	
  what	
  ci@zens	
  really	
  want.
This	
  is	
  the	
  kind	
  of	
  thing	
  that	
  breaks	
  trust	
  with	
  government.
Saturday, May 10, 14
And	
  get	
  back	
  plain	
  language	
  answers	
  that	
  direct	
  a	
  user	
  toward	
  ac@on.
The	
  site	
  itself	
  was	
  easy	
  enough	
  to	
  build.	
  But	
  the	
  team	
  was	
  faced	
  with	
  the	
  challenge	
  of	
  how	
  to	
  populate	
  all	
  the	
  content.	
  It	
  would	
  have	
  taken	
  the	
  three	
  of	
  them	
  a	
  very	
  long	
  @me,	
  especially	
  
considering	
  none	
  of	
  them	
  were	
  from	
  Honolulu.	
  
So	
  they	
  did	
  something	
  that’s	
  actually	
  preTy	
  radical	
  when	
  you	
  think	
  about	
  how	
  government	
  is	
  used	
  to	
  working.
Saturday, May 10, 14
So	
  they	
  asked	
  ci@zens	
  to	
  write	
  the	
  content.	
  You’ve	
  probably	
  all	
  heard	
  of	
  a	
  hackathon.	
  Well,	
  they	
  held	
  a	
  writeathon.	
  
Members	
  of	
  the	
  community	
  suggested	
  topics,	
  picked	
  from	
  among	
  the	
  most	
  popular	
  ques@ons,	
  and	
  wrote	
  the	
  answers	
  to	
  them.
This	
  led	
  to	
  some	
  ques@ons	
  government	
  doesn’t	
  usually	
  try	
  to	
  answer,	
  like	
  this	
  one	
  about	
  wild	
  pigs.
Over	
  the	
  course	
  of	
  a	
  Saturday	
  ajernoon	
  they	
  had	
  created	
  almost	
  all	
  of	
  the	
  content	
  for	
  the	
  site.
But	
  more	
  importantly	
  than	
  that,	
  they	
  created	
  a	
  new	
  way	
  for	
  ci@zens	
  to	
  par@cipate	
  in—to	
  build—their	
  government.
21
Saturday, May 10, 14
Our	
  second	
  major	
  program,	
  the	
  Code	
  for	
  America	
  Brigade,	
  works	
  with	
  local	
  volunteer	
  groups	
  to	
  redeploy	
  Code	
  for	
  America	
  apps	
  
(as	
  well	
  as	
  other	
  civic	
  apps),	
  and	
  to	
  do	
  other	
  work	
  to	
  improve	
  technology	
  in	
  ci@es.	
  	
  
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
In	
  June	
  2013,	
  on	
  the	
  Na4onal	
  Day	
  of	
  Civic	
  Hacking,	
  in	
  Oakland	
  (where	
  I	
  live)	
  the	
  Oakland	
  Brigade	
  held	
  their	
  own	
  writeathon	
  for	
  Oakland	
  Answers.	
  The	
  Code	
  for	
  America	
  Oakland	
  team	
  took	
  the	
  code	
  base	
  from	
  Honolulu	
  Answers	
  
and	
  redeployed	
  it	
  (everything	
  is	
  on	
  GitHub	
  hGps://github.com/codeforamerica	
  )
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
When I participated in the Oakland write-a-thon, I wrote this answer to the question about hazardous waste disposal. I knew
what needed to be said, because I’d discovered a few months before that there was a limit on how much you could bring in. I found
this out when I was turned away because I had too much in my truck. The information about limits was in the footnote on a form
that you normally fill out on site, but that they say you can print out and bring with you if you like.
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
When I participated in the Oakland write-a-thon, I wrote this answer to the question about hazardous waste disposal. I knew
what needed to be said, because I’d discovered a few months before that there was a limit on how much you could bring in. I found
this out when I was turned away because I had too much in my truck. The information about limits was in the footnote on a form
that you normally fill out on site, but that they say you can print out and bring with you if you like.
24
Saturday, May 10, 14
But	
  is	
  simply	
  building	
  beGer	
  websites	
  that	
  important?	
  I	
  wrote	
  a	
  blog	
  post	
  about	
  this	
  recently	
  on	
  the	
  Code	
  for	
  America	
  site:	
  	
  What’s	
  really	
  at	
  stake	
  in
beGer	
  interfaces	
  to	
  government.
25
“One	
  privilege	
  the	
  insured	
  and	
  well-­‐off	
  have	
  is	
  
to	
  excuse	
  the	
  terrible	
  quality	
  of	
  services	
  the	
  
government	
  rou4nely	
  delivers	
  to	
  the	
  poor.	
  Too	
  
oben,	
  the	
  press	
  ignores	
  —	
  or	
  simply	
  never	
  
knows	
  —	
  the	
  pain	
  and	
  trouble	
  of	
  interfacing	
  
with	
  government	
  bureaucracies	
  that	
  the	
  poor	
  
struggle	
  with	
  daily.”
Ezra	
  Klein,	
  Washington	
  Post
Saturday, May 10, 14
It	
  was	
  fundamentally	
  a	
  reflec@on	
  on	
  this	
  quote	
  from	
  Ezra	
  Klein,	
  wri@ng	
  in	
  the	
  Washington	
  Post,	
  to	
  the	
  effect	
  that	
  all	
  the	
  furor	
  over
the	
  failure	
  of	
  healthcare.gov	
  hides	
  a	
  far	
  deeper	
  problem.	
  	
  He	
  wrote:
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
That’s why one of the things I’m proudest about at Code for America is the work we have done to improve interfaces to social services.
Last year, our team in San Mateo worked on building a social services search engine, and an API that allows social services in
other cities to register their offerings so that they can easily be found. http://ohanapi.org/
@timoreilly
Saturday, May 10, 14
In San Francisco, the Fellows debugged the system to figure out why people were being unnecessarily cut from Food Stamp benefits.
28
Saturday, May 10, 14
People	
  were	
  geong	
  dropped	
  from	
  the	
  system	
  because	
  they	
  didn’t	
  know	
  what	
  to	
  do	
  when	
  they	
  received	
  leTers	
  like	
  this,	
  full	
  of	
  gobbledygook	
  
and	
  legalese.
29
Saturday, May 10, 14
The	
  Fellows	
  built	
  a	
  simple	
  Text	
  messaging	
  system	
  telling	
  people	
  to	
  call	
  the	
  office	
  when	
  they	
  were	
  out	
  of	
  compliance.
We	
  built	
  a	
  similar	
  system	
  in	
  Louisville	
  KY	
  to	
  remind	
  people	
  of	
  court	
  dates.	
  	
  
We	
  also	
  built	
  a	
  system	
  in	
  New	
  York	
  to	
  help	
  the	
  criminal	
  jus4ce	
  system	
  help	
  evaluate	
  candidates	
  for	
  alterna4ves	
  to	
  incarcera4on.
30
Saturday, May 10, 14
Jake	
  Solomon,	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  Fellows	
  who	
  worked	
  on	
  the	
  San	
  Francisco	
  project,	
  wrote	
  a	
  fabulous	
  post	
  on	
  Medium	
  called	
  “People,	
  Not	
  Data:	
  	
  On	
  Disdain	
  and	
  Empathy	
  
in	
  Civic	
  Tech,”	
  that	
  is	
  required	
  reading	
  for	
  anyone	
  who	
  cares	
  about	
  making	
  government	
  work	
  beGer	
  for	
  its	
  ci4zens.
31
Saturday, May 10, 14
And that’s what we’re all about at Code for America. The organization was founded to change the culture inside government that supports bureaucracy, breeds disengagement
with citizens, and makes it hard for government to come up with innovative solutions to longstanding problems--all using
modern networked, digital technology and user-centered design principles.
We take four approaches: 1) we work directly with government officials (at the local level) to create the capacity inside government to build innovative solutions to hard problems; 2) we build communities of technologists and citizens who
want to lend their skills to help build their governments; 3) we build tools that make citizen interactions with government easier, simpler, and more elegant, so that the experience of government is positive and breeds trust. 4) We incubate
and accelerate civic startups to create new
economic models for those tools. In this, we’re influenced by the idea that government should act like a platform. Before the iPhone, phones had twenty or thirty applications; now they have millions. When governments open data, for
example, private companies can deliver innovative services. (Eg GPS, weather, healthcare innovation)
32
“The	
  legi4mate	
  object	
  of	
  government	
  is	
  to	
  do	
  
for	
  the	
  people	
  what	
  needs	
  to	
  be	
  done,	
  but	
  
which	
  they	
  cannot,	
  by	
  individual	
  effort,	
  do	
  at	
  
all,	
  or	
  do	
  so	
  well,	
  for	
  themselves.”
Abraham	
  Lincoln,	
  July	
  1,	
  1854
Saturday, May 10, 14
I	
  want	
  to	
  end	
  with	
  this	
  reminder	
  from	
  Abraham	
  Lincoln.	
  Government	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  key	
  plaporms	
  for	
  improving	
  the	
  quality	
  of	
  our
society.	
  Bringing	
  modern	
  technology	
  and	
  user	
  centered	
  design	
  to	
  government,	
  so	
  that	
  it	
  truly	
  serves	
  its	
  ci@zens,	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  
great	
  opportuni@es	
  of	
  the	
  21st	
  century.	
  	
  It	
  is	
  key	
  to	
  restoring	
  faith	
  in	
  government,	
  repairing	
  the	
  breach	
  between	
  government	
  and	
  its
ci@zens,	
  and	
  delivering	
  the	
  services	
  that	
  will	
  make	
  our	
  society	
  more	
  just,	
  fair,	
  and	
  prosperous.
33
•Don’t	
  stop	
  believing	
  that	
  government	
  can	
  work,	
  and	
  
can	
  be	
  a	
  force	
  for	
  good
•2015	
  Fellows	
  Applica4on	
  Deadline	
  July	
  31,	
  2014
•2014	
  Accelerator	
  Applica4on	
  Deadline	
  May	
  15,	
  2014
•Get	
  your	
  city	
  involved	
  -­‐	
  codeforamerica.org/ci4es
•Join	
  a	
  Brigade	
  near	
  you	
  -­‐	
  codeforamerica.org/brigade
•Follow	
  @codeforamerica	
  for	
  news	
  and	
  progress
•Donate	
  -­‐	
  codeforamerica.org/donate
How	
  You	
  Can	
  Help
Saturday, May 10, 14
How	
  can	
  you	
  help?

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Technology and Trust: The Challenge of 21st Century Government

  • 1. @codeforamerica Technology and Trust: The Challenge of 21st Century Government Tim O’Reilly @timoreilly TEDx Market Street May 10, 2014 codeforamerica.org Saturday, May 10, 14 When you see the title of this talk, Technology and Trust, you perhaps think of Edward Snowden and the ongoing scandal of NSA spying on the American people and our allies. But I’m actually here to talk about something that is perhaps even more fundamental. And it starts here...
  • 2. Saturday, May 10, 14 How many of you are old enough to remember a time when you had to physically walk into a bank and talk to another human being in order to get cash? I remember…. And that memory seems quaint to all of us because we know how much personal finance has been revolutionized over the last 25 years because of digital, networked technology.
  • 3. Saturday, May 10, 14 Even a few years ago, people would have been amazed to take a picture of a check with a phone and the money will show up in their account a few hours later. The same digital, networked technologies, it seems obvious to say, have revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives. Not just banking but everything from education to how we interact with our friends.
  • 4. Saturday, May 10, 14 But there’s one place where that revolution has largely not yet taken place: in government. This is the Department of Motor Vehicles, which in the US is a symbol of bureaucracy. Just about everyone has to go at some point in their lives and almost no one has a good experience.
  • 5. 91% of Americans own a cellphone 67% use Facebook, 33% have a tablet... Why is this how we engage with government? Saturday, May 10, 14 And this is a microcosm of the problem we try to address at Code for America--when the tools are available for people to connect with anyone in the world and access every piece of information one could ever want, why do we make it so hard to access government?
  • 6. 6 Saturday, May 10, 14 Even  when  government  tries  to  do  digital,  we  get  messes  like  healthcare.gov. It  doesn’t  have  to  be  that  way.    But  when  the  government  does  end  up  building  technology  that  doesn’t  work  and  costs  way  too  much,  not  only  do  ci@zens  get  gypped,   but  it  breaks  our  trust  in  government.
  • 7. 7 Saturday, May 10, 14 Democracies get their strength from the people’s trust. When the interactions that people have with government are so divorced from how they live their lives, or are hard and unpleasant, what is that doing to the trust that underlies our democracies? Obviously, the decline of trust in government has to do with a lot of other factors besides technology, but the way government is so out of step with ordinary life certainly is symptomatic of the deeper problem.
  • 8. 8 Saturday, May 10, 14 Tom  Steinberg,  founder  and  execu4ve  director  of  MySociety,  one  of  the  pioneers  of  the  open  government  movement,  wrote  “Good  governance...” This  is  one  of  the  key  principles  that  we  work  from  at  Code  for  America.    It  isn’t  just  a  maGer  of  geHng  smart  tech  people  into  government  -­‐  that’s  magical thinking.    We  need  to  completely  reorient  the  way  government  creates  policies,  so  that  it  works  much  more  like  a  “lean  startup,”  where  you  constantly are  trying  to  learn  what  works,  rather  than  deciding  what  you  want  to  do,  and  only  then  trying  to  implement  it.
  • 9. 9 Saturday, May 10, 14 The  problems  with  healthcare.gov  were  made  worse  by  greedy  contractors  who  charged  hundreds  of  millions  of  dollars  (perhaps  up  to  a  billion  dollars  when  you count  the  state  exchanges)  for  a  site  that  many  of  us  in  Silicon  Valley  think  could  have  been  done  for  a  few  million  at  most,  and  by  feckless  bureaucrats  who  didn’t  know how  to  manage  the  project.    But  the  problem  started  here,  with  a  900+  page  “specifica@on”  (the  Affordable  Care  Act)  plus  tens  of  thousands  of  pages  of  addi@onal  regula@ons that  had  to  be  followed  to  the  leTer.  (By  contrast,  the  Interstate  Highway  Act  of  1956  was  only  29  pages  long.)    Imagine  that  Google,  or  Facebook,or  the  iPhone,  had  started  with  a  huge  specifica@on  wriTen  by  a  commiTee  of  hundreds  of  lawyers   (and  lobbyists)  and  you  realize  where  the  real  problem  lies.    Policy  people  at  the  top,  implementors  at  the  boTom.  Completely  the  inverse  of  the  way  it  works  in  Silicon  Valley. (Lots  of  people  say  Obamacare  was  2400  pages  long.  This  is  incorrect.  For  details  on  the  page  count  of  Obamacare,  see  hTp://www.leadertelegram.com/blogs/tom_giffey/ar@cle_c9f1fa54-­‐d041-­‐11e1-­‐9d01-­‐0019bb2963f4.html  and  hTp:// www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-­‐checker/post/how-­‐many-­‐pages-­‐of-­‐regula@ons-­‐for-­‐obamacare/2013/05/14/61eec914-­‐bcf9-­‐11e2-­‐9b09-­‐1638acc3942e_blog.html  )
  • 10. 10 Saturday, May 10, 14 The  UK’s  Government  Digital  Service  is  the  best  example  of  a  government  agency  that  is  doing  things  right.    One  secret  to  its  success  is  that Mike  Bracken,  the  head  of  the  GDS,  reports  in  at  the  highest  level  of  government,  and  has  a  seat  at  the  table  in  shaping  policies  that  affect  digital  services. In  the  past  couple  of  years,  the  GDS  has  replaced  something  like  1700  bad  government  web  sites  with  one  that  has  more  usage   than  all  1700  combined  had  before.  The  service  has  had  ci@zen  sa@sfac@on  go  through  the  roof,  and  has  won  plaudits  from  everyone.
  • 11. 11 Saturday, May 10, 14 The  GDS  has  aGracted  a  talented  team  of  technologists  and  has  been  described  as  “the  hoGest  startup  in  London.”    But  one  of  the  most  important  things  they’ve done  is  to  rethink  how  to  design  government  digital  services.    The  GDS  Design  Principles  are,  in  my  opinion,  the  most  important  user  interface  document  since the  original  Macintosh  User  Interface  Guidelines,  which  set  the  tone  for  the  mouse  and  window  era  of  compu4ng. A  lot  of  our  work  at  Code  for  America  is  informed  by  the  UK’s  Government  Digital  Service  Design  Principles.
  • 12. 12 Saturday, May 10, 14 The  first  of  these  is  to  start  with  needs  -­‐  user  needs,  not  government  needs.    This  is  so  cri@cal.    The  GDS  works  a  lot  like  any  Silicon  Valley startup.    They  iden@fy  a  problem  area,  and  learn  how  to  solve  it  incrementally,  with  a  build-­‐measure-­‐learn  cycle.
  • 13. 13 Saturday, May 10, 14 Code  for  America  follows  the  same  approach. Our  flagship  program  is  our  Fellowship,  which  brings  talented  startup  teams  into  ci4es  for  a  year  to   develop  innova4ve  solu4ons,  but  perhaps  more  importantly,  to  teach  city  partners  how  to  think  about  a  more  modern, user-­‐centric  approach  to  government  technology.
  • 14. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 A great example of how our Fellowship teams apply the GDS Design Principles is a project that we did in 2012 in Honolulu, where we worked on a project to improve the city’s website.
  • 15. Saturday, May 10, 14 With  only  three  fellows,  they  couldn’t  take  on  the  task  of  rebuilding  the  content  for  the  en@re  website.  So  what  they  did  instead  was   to  build  a  site  that  beTer  conformed  to  the  way  people  look  for  informa@on.  They’re  usually  looking  for  quick  answers  or  steps  for  ac@on   they  need  to  take  and  a  site  that  looks  like  this  is  really  frustra@ng  to  navigate.    How  ojen  have  you  come  to  a government  website  like  this,  full  of  press  releases  (mee@ng  government  needs,  not  ci@zen  needs).
  • 16. Saturday, May 10, 14 So  they  built  Honolulu  Answers,  a  super-­‐simple  and  elegant  search  interface  that  allows  ci@zens  to  enter  keywords  or  ques@ons  and  get  quick  answers.
  • 17. 17 Saturday, May 10, 14 They applied another one of the GDS design principles, to design with data. They mined the visitor logs of the existing site and the city’s call center to find out what people are really looking for, instead of what government departments want to say about themselves. And one of the things that they found was that driver’s license information was one of the top searches. (In Hawaii, the city manages this for the state.)
  • 18. 18 Saturday, May 10, 14 Take  a  look  at  the  city’s  exis@ng  start  page  of  driver’s  license  informa@on,  complete  with  such  “need  to  know”  informa@on  as  the fact  that  the  driver’s  licensing  sta@ons  have  a  new  statewide  computer/camera  licensing  system!  We  even  have  a  link  to  a  picture  of   a  driver’s  license.    But  the  informa@on  about  how  to  get  one  is  hard  to  find.    That’s  what  ci@zens  really  want. This  is  the  kind  of  thing  that  breaks  trust  with  government.
  • 19. Saturday, May 10, 14 And  get  back  plain  language  answers  that  direct  a  user  toward  ac@on. The  site  itself  was  easy  enough  to  build.  But  the  team  was  faced  with  the  challenge  of  how  to  populate  all  the  content.  It  would  have  taken  the  three  of  them  a  very  long  @me,  especially   considering  none  of  them  were  from  Honolulu.   So  they  did  something  that’s  actually  preTy  radical  when  you  think  about  how  government  is  used  to  working.
  • 20. Saturday, May 10, 14 So  they  asked  ci@zens  to  write  the  content.  You’ve  probably  all  heard  of  a  hackathon.  Well,  they  held  a  writeathon.   Members  of  the  community  suggested  topics,  picked  from  among  the  most  popular  ques@ons,  and  wrote  the  answers  to  them. This  led  to  some  ques@ons  government  doesn’t  usually  try  to  answer,  like  this  one  about  wild  pigs. Over  the  course  of  a  Saturday  ajernoon  they  had  created  almost  all  of  the  content  for  the  site. But  more  importantly  than  that,  they  created  a  new  way  for  ci@zens  to  par@cipate  in—to  build—their  government.
  • 21. 21 Saturday, May 10, 14 Our  second  major  program,  the  Code  for  America  Brigade,  works  with  local  volunteer  groups  to  redeploy  Code  for  America  apps   (as  well  as  other  civic  apps),  and  to  do  other  work  to  improve  technology  in  ci@es.    
  • 22. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 In  June  2013,  on  the  Na4onal  Day  of  Civic  Hacking,  in  Oakland  (where  I  live)  the  Oakland  Brigade  held  their  own  writeathon  for  Oakland  Answers.  The  Code  for  America  Oakland  team  took  the  code  base  from  Honolulu  Answers   and  redeployed  it  (everything  is  on  GitHub  hGps://github.com/codeforamerica  )
  • 23. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 When I participated in the Oakland write-a-thon, I wrote this answer to the question about hazardous waste disposal. I knew what needed to be said, because I’d discovered a few months before that there was a limit on how much you could bring in. I found this out when I was turned away because I had too much in my truck. The information about limits was in the footnote on a form that you normally fill out on site, but that they say you can print out and bring with you if you like.
  • 24. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 When I participated in the Oakland write-a-thon, I wrote this answer to the question about hazardous waste disposal. I knew what needed to be said, because I’d discovered a few months before that there was a limit on how much you could bring in. I found this out when I was turned away because I had too much in my truck. The information about limits was in the footnote on a form that you normally fill out on site, but that they say you can print out and bring with you if you like.
  • 25. 24 Saturday, May 10, 14 But  is  simply  building  beGer  websites  that  important?  I  wrote  a  blog  post  about  this  recently  on  the  Code  for  America  site:    What’s  really  at  stake  in beGer  interfaces  to  government.
  • 26. 25 “One  privilege  the  insured  and  well-­‐off  have  is   to  excuse  the  terrible  quality  of  services  the   government  rou4nely  delivers  to  the  poor.  Too   oben,  the  press  ignores  —  or  simply  never   knows  —  the  pain  and  trouble  of  interfacing   with  government  bureaucracies  that  the  poor   struggle  with  daily.” Ezra  Klein,  Washington  Post Saturday, May 10, 14 It  was  fundamentally  a  reflec@on  on  this  quote  from  Ezra  Klein,  wri@ng  in  the  Washington  Post,  to  the  effect  that  all  the  furor  over the  failure  of  healthcare.gov  hides  a  far  deeper  problem.    He  wrote:
  • 27. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 That’s why one of the things I’m proudest about at Code for America is the work we have done to improve interfaces to social services. Last year, our team in San Mateo worked on building a social services search engine, and an API that allows social services in other cities to register their offerings so that they can easily be found. http://ohanapi.org/
  • 28. @timoreilly Saturday, May 10, 14 In San Francisco, the Fellows debugged the system to figure out why people were being unnecessarily cut from Food Stamp benefits.
  • 29. 28 Saturday, May 10, 14 People  were  geong  dropped  from  the  system  because  they  didn’t  know  what  to  do  when  they  received  leTers  like  this,  full  of  gobbledygook   and  legalese.
  • 30. 29 Saturday, May 10, 14 The  Fellows  built  a  simple  Text  messaging  system  telling  people  to  call  the  office  when  they  were  out  of  compliance. We  built  a  similar  system  in  Louisville  KY  to  remind  people  of  court  dates.     We  also  built  a  system  in  New  York  to  help  the  criminal  jus4ce  system  help  evaluate  candidates  for  alterna4ves  to  incarcera4on.
  • 31. 30 Saturday, May 10, 14 Jake  Solomon,  one  of  the  Fellows  who  worked  on  the  San  Francisco  project,  wrote  a  fabulous  post  on  Medium  called  “People,  Not  Data:    On  Disdain  and  Empathy   in  Civic  Tech,”  that  is  required  reading  for  anyone  who  cares  about  making  government  work  beGer  for  its  ci4zens.
  • 32. 31 Saturday, May 10, 14 And that’s what we’re all about at Code for America. The organization was founded to change the culture inside government that supports bureaucracy, breeds disengagement with citizens, and makes it hard for government to come up with innovative solutions to longstanding problems--all using modern networked, digital technology and user-centered design principles. We take four approaches: 1) we work directly with government officials (at the local level) to create the capacity inside government to build innovative solutions to hard problems; 2) we build communities of technologists and citizens who want to lend their skills to help build their governments; 3) we build tools that make citizen interactions with government easier, simpler, and more elegant, so that the experience of government is positive and breeds trust. 4) We incubate and accelerate civic startups to create new economic models for those tools. In this, we’re influenced by the idea that government should act like a platform. Before the iPhone, phones had twenty or thirty applications; now they have millions. When governments open data, for example, private companies can deliver innovative services. (Eg GPS, weather, healthcare innovation)
  • 33. 32 “The  legi4mate  object  of  government  is  to  do   for  the  people  what  needs  to  be  done,  but   which  they  cannot,  by  individual  effort,  do  at   all,  or  do  so  well,  for  themselves.” Abraham  Lincoln,  July  1,  1854 Saturday, May 10, 14 I  want  to  end  with  this  reminder  from  Abraham  Lincoln.  Government  is  one  of  the  key  plaporms  for  improving  the  quality  of  our society.  Bringing  modern  technology  and  user  centered  design  to  government,  so  that  it  truly  serves  its  ci@zens,  is  one  of  the   great  opportuni@es  of  the  21st  century.    It  is  key  to  restoring  faith  in  government,  repairing  the  breach  between  government  and  its ci@zens,  and  delivering  the  services  that  will  make  our  society  more  just,  fair,  and  prosperous.
  • 34. 33 •Don’t  stop  believing  that  government  can  work,  and   can  be  a  force  for  good •2015  Fellows  Applica4on  Deadline  July  31,  2014 •2014  Accelerator  Applica4on  Deadline  May  15,  2014 •Get  your  city  involved  -­‐  codeforamerica.org/ci4es •Join  a  Brigade  near  you  -­‐  codeforamerica.org/brigade •Follow  @codeforamerica  for  news  and  progress •Donate  -­‐  codeforamerica.org/donate How  You  Can  Help Saturday, May 10, 14 How  can  you  help?