Breakout Sessions

This year’s Summit is organized into three tracks: Digital Delivery, Civic Innovation and, Government Operations. These breakout sessions will include visions of a radically improved future for services at all levels of government, but with the insight and practical experience that make these visions different from yet another policy paper.

No sign ups are required for breakouts, but they are offered on a first come, first served basis and sometimes rooms do fill up!

Quick and Easy User Engagement

Cesar Paredes, Client Success Specialist, Code for America
Nicole Rappin, User Researcher, Code for America
Julie Sutherland, Designer, Code for America

As researchers working with government, we know that getting feedback from even a small amount of users reveals important opportunities for service improvement. In this session, Code for America researchers will share their favorite methods for conducting lightweight research with users of various government services. We’ll discuss how to define your research question, identify the users of your product or service, and choose the right research method for learning. We’ll give you tips to expand your comfort level and improve user-facing experiences. This session is for government staff and managers looking to identify quick improvements, engage clients, and gather valuable feedback.

Taking the Next Step with Confidence

Simone Sequeira, Senior Product Manager, Code for America

Decision-making in teams can be challenging. Trade-offs and uncertainties abound, whether you have minimal information or what feels like too much. How do you make decisions that your team can buy in to and align with? How can you feel confident that your decision will maximize value in the areas you really care about? In this session, we’ll take a look at how we make decisions on the product teams at Code for America and then work through interactive exercises. Whether you're a primary decision maker or a contributor on a collaborative team, you'll come away with tools and frameworks for moving your projects forward.

Cracking the Toughest Digital Form Design Problems

Presenter: Andy Lewandowski, User Experience Designer, U.S. Digital Service

In the civic tech world we are constantly designing digital forms, and we do this well with simple, reusable patterns that allow us to build form experiences in just a few hours. Despite this, there are some form scenarios that are challenging to design for. How can users easily enter five consecutive years of their travel history—without gaps and overlaps? How should we capture occupational history, while being sensitive to periods of un- or under-employment? How can we be sensitive to users who need to document the death of their child? We’ve come across these scenarios and more designing federal forms for immigrants via U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and for veterans via the Department of Veterans Affairs. This workshop will introduce these and other complex scenarios, and then break participants into groups to work together to design solutions to some tough form design problems.

Designing Secure Digital Services

Crystal Yan, Design Lead, U.S. Digital Service

In a place far from home, how do immigrants find information about and understand how to navigate a complex government process? And how might we design content and services to ensure their data is secure? This presentation provides an overview of how to approach service and content design in the public sector in order to protect the privacy of vulnerable users and ensure data security across several channels: mail, email, phone, fax, and in-person. When it comes to determining policies for how the collected data is governed, there is often also a discrepancy between an ideal policy given security concerns and a policy an office can realistically comply with given current technical limitations. In this presentation, we’ll share how our team conducted human-centered design research with asylum seekers, how those insights illuminated areas of improvement for content and service design, and how we redesigned content and services while balancing needs for ease of use and data security.

A Service Blueprint for Successful User-Centered Digital Delivery


Kelli Ho, Designer/Researcher, Nava PBC
Genevieve Gaudet, Design Manager, Nava PBC

Service blueprinting is a powerful tool for user-centered digital delivery. It is a living artifact that describes how a service is provided to end users—and the various actors and processes involved. It aligns cross-disciplinary teams by establishing a shared vocabulary and understanding. It surfaces critical moments, breakdowns, and inefficiencies, and empowers teams to identify ideas and opportunities to deliver better services and meet user needs. Attendees will leave this talk with the tools to run their own interactive service blueprinting sessions within their own organizations.

Engagement and Digital Delivery via API: Case Studies from the NYC Mayor’s Office and U.S. Census


Ryan Dolan, Data Visualization Lead, U.S. Census Bureau
Song Hia, Product Manager, NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
Kimberly Peng, Developer, NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
Gerson Vásquez, Data Visualization Lead, U.S. Census Bureau
Tyson Weister, Program Analyst, U.S. Census Bureau

It’s easy for users to get lost when searching for the data or resources they need. This session will feature case studies from two offices that leveraged APIs to make data and programs more readily accessible to their users. In New York City, the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity is expanding the City’s benefits screening efforts through the development of a new open API with criteria for 30+ federal, state, and municipal programs to support the creation of new technology tools and screening scenarios. The U.S. Census Bureau is engaging users through a new dissemination platform with access to all data and visualizations, leveraging its publicly accessible API. Join us for live demonstrations of these featured projects and learn tips and tricks for navigating the Census API, including seeing what data visualizations result from tapping into the census data. Both case studies will detail the incremental development processes that were successful in rolling out the work.

The Current State of Maturity in Digital Services Groups Around the World

David Eaves, Lecturer of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Last summer, digital HKS proposed a new maturity framework model for digital services groups in the public sector, drawing on the expertise and advice of practitioners around the world. Since then, we have been collecting data from digital services teams at the federal, regional, and municipal levels in many nations as well as feedback from teams about how they are using the model to think about their own work. In this session, we will share what we've learned to date from teams that have completed the maturity model, ask for feedback about where to go next, and think through how digital services teams can leverage these kinds of tools to drive and scale greater impact for the public.

Measuring and Increasing Effectiveness of Digital Public Service Delivery

David Schönholzer, PhD in Economics (UC Berkeley), Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cowles Foundation in the Economics Department at Yale University.
Guo Xu, Assistant Professor, Berkeley Haas School of Business

Digital public service delivery promises to revolutionize how citizens and governments interact. But measuring the impact of digitizing services on citizen satisfaction and behavior is difficult. In this breakout session, you will learn how to design randomized control trials to evaluate the systematic impact of your service. Randomized control trials are particularly useful to civil servants and policymakers who are implementing a new service but unsure whether it will achieve the desired goals, or deciding which of several alternative implementations to pursue. You will also learn how to tap into the vast (and often free) pool of academic talent that is interested in supporting these kinds of evaluations in the public sector.

Advanced Mistake Making: A Master Class

Dana Chisnell, Co-Executive Director, Center for Civic Design

You’re going to make mistakes. That’s just the nature of things. As you learn, there will be errors and accidents, slip-ups and inadvertent breakages. What if your goal was to only make new mistakes? Others have gone before you, trying to get to the same place you’re trying to get to. They’ve already screwed up in countless, useful ways. What can you learn from them before you embark on the next attempt to fix your part of government? In this talk, you’ll learn how to preview the worst possible outcomes without actually messing anything up including using discovery to learn from survivors, future casting outcomes to visualize impacts, and mapping the worst possible scenarios to assess risk and cost of getting things wrong.

Shaping a Bold Future through Delivery-Driven Policymaking: Universal Family Care

Kate Lydon, Senior Portfolio Director at IDEO
Sarita Gupta, Co-Director, Caring Across Generations and Co-Director, Jobs With Justice

Where do human-centered design methods and policymaking intersect? How might designers and policymakers collaborate on policy innovation? Sarita Gupta, co-director of national non-profit Caring Across Generations, will share how reaching far outside the policy realm to the methods of human-centered design has been an essential part of advancing Universal Family Care.

Civic Tech and Civil Justice


Shubha Balasubramanyam, Director of Technology, Center for Court Innovation
Ray Brescia, Hon. Harold R. Tyler Chair in Law & Technology and Professor of Law, Albany Law School
Margaret Hagan, Director of the Legal Design Lab and Lecturer, Stanford Institute of Design, Stanford University
Jack Madans, Digital Services Principal, Judicial Council of California
Mark O’Brien, Executive Director, Pro Bono Net
Evonne Silva, Senior Program Director, Criminal Justice & Workforce Development, Code for America
Sacha Steinberger, Director, Legal Link

Every day, thousands of Americans face legal problems—like eviction, intimate partner violence, and deportation—without a lawyer. Technology extends the promise that we can expand the delivery of legal assistance to those in need. This program will discuss that promise; the processes by which innovation is explored and adopted in this space; and the implications for justice, equality, and democracy. The panelists will encourage those in attendance to consider partnerships with the justice system, non-profits, the private sector, and law schools to promote innovation in the delivery and provision of critical legal services to those most desperately in need.

Human-Centered Design in Healthcare Technology


Hugo Campos - Innovator in Residence, Kaiser Permanente
Nick Dawson - Designer, Kaiser Permanente
Leilani Graham - ePatient, Stanford Medicine X

Increasingly, we're realizing that so much of healthcare—how health services are delivered—was not designed from the perspective of end users. While other industries have embraced human-centered design as a way to engage users, healthcare has been a bit behind. But an emerging trend of designers patterning with empowered patients is changing that. When designers partner with patients we shine a light on some of our most intractable problems and bend them to new, creative solutions. Join us for a breakout session on the front lines of design in healthcare. After a few quick stories, you'll get a rapid cycle chance to dig in on some real challenges presented by real patients and learn and gain inspiration from how large and established institutions can start and support a culture of human-centered design.

The State of Criminal Justice Data at the County Level

Andrew Branch, Director of Product and Data Infrastructure, Measures for Justice
Ian Thomas, Research Assistant, Measures for Justice
Maria McKee, Principal Analyst, Office of District Attorney George Gascón – San Francisco

To plan for national scaling of their research, Measures for Justice conducted a study of the state online case lookup systems for county courts across the United States. For anyone hoping to access court system data, the availability of data online is a critical starting point—both for researchers seeking bulk data and for individuals seeking to access their local justice systems. In this breakout, Measures for Justice will present their findings, including detailed maps of each state and county, and discuss policy implications of what they discovered.

How to Use Off-The-Shelf Tech to Digitize Paper Processes


Brandon Anderson, CEO and Founder of Raheem
Shannon Farley, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Fast Forward
Rey Faustino, CEO and Co-Founder of One Degree

Filing a police report? Flipping through the yellow pages to access social services? What were once paper-first processes have been transformed into tech products to address the needs of millions of vulnerable citizens. Some of the best civic tech solutions leverage off-the-shelf technology to build great products fast, especially in the early stages. In this conversation, Shannon Farley from Fast Forward will dive into the subject with Brandon Anderson, founder of Raheem, an app for reporting police conduct after losing his partner to police violence and Rey Faustino, who spent countless hours flipping through social services binders as a kid, and later built One Degree, a digital platform for finding these resources.

Equity as the Eggs Not the Icing


Allen Meyer, Visual Designer, Innovation Office, San Francisco Human Services Agency
Natasha Jimenez, Service Designer, Innovation Office, San Francisco Human Services Agency
Marc Hébert, Director, Innovation Office, San Francisco Human Services Agency

What does it mean to bake in equity when co-designing public experiences? How does this unfold across digital and non-digital touchpoints? As an internal design unit within a municipal agency, the Innovation Office of the San Francisco Human Services Agency helps to create services that better meet the needs of the public, government employees and intended policy. These needs unfold in a historical context of power, privilege, discrimination, and trauma. Applying “equity” in their work is to include this historical context from initial conversations with project collaborators through strategy, design, implementation and evaluation. In this session they will offer lessons learned, and welcome reflections from your lived experiences and practices. Decolonizing Civic Tech

Sydette Harry, Editor, Mozilla
Abbey Kos, Content designer, 18F
Cordelia Yu, Content designer, 18F

From the conferences we attend to the standards we adapt, today’s biggest voices in civic tech are overwhelmingly British, American, and white. Yet according to UN rankings, our countries barely crack the top 10 in terms of e-participation. What might we learn if we stopped trying to lead and started listening? Join us for a frank talk about civic tech—who we listen to, what we hold sacred, and how we can learn from history rather than create new forms of digital imperialism.

Using APIs to Foster Civic Engagement


Chris Hein, Head of Public Sector Engineering, Google Cloud
Kelly Taylor, Product Manager, U.S. Digital Service

Modern machine learning, APIs and tools can assist governmental agencies in creating and fostering civic engagement. In this session, experts from government and industry will explore how government can use APIs to deliver services to developers and users including covering modern ML tools and ways agencies are using them to engage their citizens, what a typical journey looks like, how to deal with the ethical questions, and what datasets are necessary for real intelligence.

Backpacking Trips, Christmas Trees, and the Woodsy Owl: How Open Forest Is Connecting the Public with the Outdoors


Andrew Suprenant, Product Manager, 18F
Aaron Burk, Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service
Amber Sprinkle, Product Owner, U.S. Forest Service

In this presentation, development team members will share how 18F and the U.S. Forest Service partnered to build a platform through user-centered design, stakeholder engagement, product management, modular procurement, scaled agile, and DevOps, and tools such as and US Web Design System. Attendees will walk away from the discussion with a better idea of how to build public-facing products in the federal domain in an iterative, compliant, user-centered way.

Backpacking Trips, Christmas Trees, and the Woodsy Owl: How Open Forest Is Connecting the Public with the Outdoors

Hannah Kane, Product Manager, 18F
Andrew Suprenant, Product Manager, 18F

In this session, development team members will share how 18F and the U.S. Forest Service partnered to build a platform through user-centered design, stakeholder engagement, product management, modular procurement, scaled agile, and DevOps, as well as tools such as and US Web Design System. Attendees will walk away from the discussion with a better idea of how to build public-facing products in the federal domain in an iterative, compliant, user-centered way.