For our government to truly serve the people in the 21st century, we must do three things:
- Be good at digital. Digital skills must be embedded at all levels of government, and owned by the people responsible for delivering programs and services to the public.
- Ensure policy and implementation work together, and are centered around the needs of the people. Linear processes, moving from policy, to implementation to stasis, must transform into iterative cycles where policy and implementation are informed by each other and are focused on people's needs.
- Be a platform for civic engagement and participation. Government must learn to incorporate productive contributions from the public, so that everyone can help make government work.
We use these practices to build technology with and for governments.
1. Start with people's needs
Begin projects by conducting research with real people to understand who they are, what they need, and how they behave. Design programs and services around those needs, continuously test with users, and refine policy and processes accordingly.
Learn more about User Centered Design, including how to:
- Develop your research plan
- Conduct interviews to understand user needs
- Recruit for and facilitate user testing
2. Ensure everyone can participate
Create ways for every community member to productively participate in decisions about issues that affect them. Proactively reach out to a cross section of your community, communicate using language that’s easy to understand, and engage people through diverse channels that meet people where they are.
Learn more about Community Engagement, including how to:
- Ensure you are reaching a cross section of your community
- Make information easy to find and understand
- Collect community input through a variety of channels
- Create feedback loops that demonstrate the impact of community input
3. Start small and continuously improve
When you are building or buying government technology, start small and get a working minimum viable product (MVP) into people's hands as early as possible, test with users frequently, and make continuous improvements based on feedback.
Learn more about Iterative Development, including how to:
- Align around concrete goals
- Set up your project sprints, including planning, standups and retrospectives
- Show regular, visible progress through defined product stages
4. Use real-time data to inform decisions
Set key metrics to determine if programs and services are regularly meeting objectives and analyze the data to gain insights and drive actions that help improve community outcomes.
Learn more about Data-driven Decision Making, including how to:
- Conduct a baseline analysis
- Set clear metrics for success
- Monitor your data to see how you are doing
- Implement incremental changes and check for improvements
- Share your analytics with the public
5. Default to open
Work in the open, proactively publish public data online, and collaborate with the community to help make programs and services better for everyone.
Learn more about Open Government, including how to:
- Open data in standardized and digital formats
- Get started using free and open source software
- Do your work in the open, while preserving privacy and security
- Invite the community to help
6. Build the right team
Invest in people who value the role of digital at all levels of the organization. Increase tech skills and literacy among staff, hire new tech talent where it’s needed, and build multidisciplinary teams focused on delivery.
Learn more about Team Building, including how to:
- Build digital skills and literacy within your workforce
- Understand the difference between IT and digital
- Hire tech talent
- Build multidisciplinary teams focused on delivery
- Bring in the right partners across agencies and community groups
7. Make informed technology choices
Understand where, when, and how to build, buy, or use existing technology in order to run efficient and effective operations, and deliver services online that meet the needs of the people using them.
Learn how to improve your Procurement processes, including how to:
- Write RFPs that allow for iterative development
- Simplify the process for procuring technology
- Make working with the city more accessible to local businesses and entrepreneurs
- Effectively evaluate government technology