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Defining 21st Century Government

I’m proud to share the beta of our principles for 21st century government. In this update, we’ve incorporated feedback we received from the 2014 Summit, as well as work from the U.S. Digital Service and GOV.UK that we think applies to the problems faced by local governments.

Over the last few years, the combination of agile and lean ways of working with digital technology and the internet have allowed businesses to serve people’s needs better than ever before. When people interact with their government though, it’s clear that their expectations aren’t being met.

Part of our work at Code for America is to make building digital government easy to understand and easy to copy.

We believe these seven principles help governments understand the values required to build digital government. They are critical for governments of any size or structure to deliver more effective, efficient, and inclusive services to their community. We’ve seen their importance over the last four years, in 32 Fellowship cities big and small across America, and in conversation with those around the world who have been transforming government.

In the past, we’ve described these concepts as “capabilities” — the abilities of governments to work or act in a certain way. But we have realized that there is something more fundamental than just the ability to work or act in a certain way.

We call these principles because it is only when governments agree to, follow, and adopt them at every level, that governments genuinely change and improve the way they work. Together, they provide a clear direction that can then be acted upon.

Real world examples are more persuasive than words on a page. Over the next few months, we’ll be adding examples that show how governments are using these principles to deliver more effective, efficient, and inclusive government.

These principles will never be finished: we’ll update them as governments try new approaches and learn what works and what doesn’t. We’ll also supplement each principle with standards, guidelines, and how-to materials to help governments apply them.

As always, we want to hear candid and constructive feedback. We’d like to know if we can be more clear, or if you think there’s something we should add. We’d also like to hear how your government practices these principles.