Workshops

The Code for America Summit workshops are interactive professional development opportunities led by government and technology leaders striving to design a better government. Enjoy 101-level introductions to general topics such as product management, user research and prototyping, to intermediate and advanced workshops covering the hiring pipeline, emerging technology, security and urban transit policy.

Buying Tech in 2019: A Procurement Workshop

Let’s talk about buying SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and custom software within the current legal framework. 18F, the State of California, and other municipalities have shown us that you break up monolithic, waterfall RFPs and recraft them for success. Come learn how to make acquisition joyful with modular contracting. You will leave with both a thorough understanding of best practices, procurement strategies, and sample language you can take home and use tomorrow.

  • Alla Seiffert, Internet Association
  • Dave Zvenyach, independent consultant

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Delivery-Driven Policy Design in Social Services and Urban Transit: An Overview

This workshop for policy specialists introduces human-centered, data-driven and design thinking concepts to crafting policy. Attendees will learn about the process of designing policy with explicit consideration as to how policy will be delivered, and how policy and service delivery can be approached iteratively.

An expert panel will share practical case studies in the fields of social service and urban transit policy, covering goals, techniques and outcomes, as well as methods for dealing with environmental conditions.

Speakers to be announced.


Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Design Research 101

Maybe this whole “design research” thing is new to you. Maybe you just want a refresher on the basics. Maybe you’ve done usability testing before, but aren’t sure how it works in government. In all cases, this workshop is for you. It will cover the essentials of discovery research and usability testing within state and local government. We’ll start with basic principles and methods, then move quickly into hands-on practice. Our goal is have every participant leave this workshop feeling confident that they are ready for a crucial activity in public service.

  • Elizabeth Goodman, former Director of Design, 18F
  • Amber Reed, Chief Service Designer, Whole Person Care SF Department of Public Health

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Learning What Works: How Cities Can Apply Behavioral Insights and Evaluation to Learn and Improve

Does your city struggle to collect taxes, fines, or unpaid bills? Or maybe your city offers an incredible service but faces a challenge in encouraging residents to sign up? Perhaps you want to promote energy or water conservation? Or you want to recruit a diverse group of people into your workforce? Behind each of these goals is an opportunity to innovate, learn, and improve. By using the tools of applied behavioral science and rigorous evaluation, cities can design better policies, improve their services, and produce better outcomes for their residents.

This workshop will offer an introduction to applied behavioral science and rigorous, low-cost evaluation and learn why they are such powerful tools for city governments. We will explore BIT’s method for addressing real-world challenges using the science of decision-making and the tools of randomized field experiments. Workshop participants will gain practical advice for how to find opportunities to improve a policy or process, explore the barriers that might get in the way of priorities and goals, design innovative solutions, and test and scale what works. Workshop participants are invited to bring their real-life resident communications or forms redesign using behavioral insights.

  • Kelsey Gohn, Associate Advisor, The Behavioural Insights Team

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Practical Design Thinking and User-Centered Design for Moving the Needle in Government

Government work presents a unique set of challenges. Teams can get mired in complexity and policy, and have a hard time figuring out where to begin. In the last decade, user-centered design and design thinking have emerged as a set of problem-solving tools and techniques that have been widely applied to tackle complex, messy problems across government and industry. These tools and techniques put real people at the heart of its practice: observing, listening to, and engaging directly with the very people you are designing for and designing with. In the world of policy, user-centered design and design thinking offer a practical framework for incrementally improving service delivery at various levels of government.

In this workshop you will learn about user-centered design tools and techniques that will help you to gain empathy for your end users, as well as people in your organization, so that you can better understand their frustrations, needs and goals. You will learn how to turn pain points into opportunities and how to prioritize them. We will discuss how this approach requires a new mindset that encourages releasing bias and embracing learning, an appetite to work through grey areas of ambiguity, learning from failure, and of course, empathy and optimism. This may be a radical shift in how your organization or team works and thinks, so we will also cover strategic methods for improving involvement and support within your organization, so you can actually use these tools to effect change and get things done.

  • Jane Guthrie, Sr. UX Designer, Truss
  • Karen VanHouten, Sr. UX Designer, Truss

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Introduction to Product Security for Digital Services

This workshop will introduce you to how to think about security and how it fits into the product development process. You will learn what security threats look like and how to apply key principles and processes to protect your web applications. This talk is built on years of experience shipping products and securing them in the private sector and in the federal government.

  • Alex Gaynor, Alloy; former U.S. Digital Service, Mozilla
  • Andrew Nacin, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; former U.S. Digital Service, WordPress

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Solving Your Hiring Problem

Are you trying to hire technical experts in government (local, state, or federal)? How's it going? If it's anything like our early efforts, probably not well. Save yourself a few headaches and come learn from our experience setting up the U.S. Digital Service recruiting and hiring pipeline. We'll walk through how we set up the entire process, from identifying staffing needs, to recruiting, to selection, to hiring, and—most importantly—how you can use these lessons yourself. This session will focus on identifying your blockers, creating strategies to overcome them, and putting that in the larger framework of a recruiting, selection, and hiring process.

  • Jennifer Anastasoff, Founding Head of People Operations, U.S. Digital Service
  • Jenny Smith, Former Leader of People Operations, U.S. Digital Service

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Understanding Data Protection and Privacy 101

This interactive workshop will cover the basic principles of lean data practices, or LDP. We will include operational tips on how to implement LDP internally, including security practices to consider. We will also explore the perspectives of different audiences who need to understand data collection and use and ways to make those communications more effective.

  • Mika Shah, Lead Product & Data Counsel, Mozilla

Wed, May 29   9:30am – 12:30pm

Demystifying Data Sharing: How Local Governments Successfully Share Data

Policymakers and practitioners increasingly see the value of using data to help inform their decisions, provide more targeted services, and improve critical programs. Local government data often sits in silos across, or even within, government agencies, making legal, and ethical, data sharing, a key step to leveraging data science to help government improve. Understanding the laws and regulations that govern the use of data for research and analysis, while ensuring that data is used responsibly, is a critical component of a successful data or tech project.

  • Lynn Overmann, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Foundation
  • Catie Bialick, Criminal Justice Manager, Arnold Foundation

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

DevOps and Continuous Delivery 101

This workshop presents the principles and practices behind continuous delivery and the DevOps movement, along with case studies from real companies and ideas to help you adopt continuous delivery and DevOps in government.

Putting DevOps and continuous delivery into practice requires both process and culture change, which can be particularly difficult in the context of government. After taking this training, you’ll have learned how to measure your progress implementing DevOps and continuous delivery, what's necessary to make it successful in a regulated context, and how to advocate for the changes required with key stakeholders, including leadership and information security.

Jez Humble, Google Cloud; Lecturer, University of California-Berkeley


Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

Evaluating Emerging Technologies: What You Need to Know About Machine Learning, Blockchain, Smart Cities, and More

In October 2018, the U.S. Government Defense Innovation Board published their guide to Detecting Agile BS. The guide gained instant notoriety for providing candid, no-nonsense guidance on telling the difference between claims and competency.

In this safe space workshop, facilitators will provided candid, independent points of view and you’ll learn criteria to apply to hot topics like machine learning, blockchain, smart cities, chatbots and voice assistants, to distinguish BS from what will help you get the job done.

  • Dan O’Neil, Founder, Civic Operator
  • Sharon Kennedy Vickers, Chief Information Officer, City of Saint Paul

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

Leading Successful, Innovative Teams in Government

In this interactive workshop, we will dive into the essential attributes needed to succeed as a 21st century government leader based on the Partnership for Public Service’s extensive research, close collaboration with innovative leaders across the federal government and private sector best practices. The session will also explore specific ways you might apply these attributes in a team context. You will leave the session with a stronger self-awareness as a leader, prepared to lead your team to achieve greater results.

  • Andrew Marshall, Director for Leadership Development, Partnership for Public Service; certified executive coach
  • Virginia Hamilton, Strategic Advisor, Partnership for Public Service; former Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

On the Path to What Works Cities Certification: How to Communicate about Your Data-Driven Government

Whether your city is just getting started on using data or already has compelling examples of impact to share, regularly communicating your progress is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate your government’s commitment to delivering results and to engage residents, staff, and local thought leaders who can reinforce and expand your efforts. That's why the best practices outlined in What Works Cities Certification—the national standard of excellence for well-managed, data-driven local government—emphasize the importance of local governments and their chief executives communicating about their data work. In this workshop, What Works Cities' communications lead, Kristin Taylor, will teach you how to adopt a communications mindset that goes beyond sharing big wins to creating an ongoing dialogue about your city's data work.

  • Kristin Taylor, Associate Director of Communications, What Works Cities

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

Product Management 101

This workshop for civil servants introduces product management as a discipline, covers why product management is critical in a government context, and gives participants a path towards developing their product management skills. We will discuss what individual product managers are responsible for, and the organizational support they need in order to succeed, before diving into hands-on activities that will give everyone a taste of what it's like to own a product.

  • Hannah Kane, 18F
  • Nikki Lee, 18F

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm

Prototyping Products and Digital Services 101

Government is faced with building solutions to highly complex problems with dense policies, hundreds of stakeholders and vulnerable populations who need services and help everyday. Often, we’re asked to make key product decisions up front, when we have the least information on how we can achieve our target outcomes.

This workshop will explore how to use prototyping as a tool for rapid learning, stakeholder alignment, and quick validation of potential solutions. From problem definition and hypothesis generation to hand-drawn sketches and clickable prototypes, we’ll guide you through creating prototypes, when to use them, how to learn from them.

  • Caitlin Weber, Principal Designer, Ad Hoc
  • Kaitlin Devine, Director of Innovation, Ad Hoc

Wed, May 29   1:30pm – 4:30pm