Summit workshops are half-day interactive professional development opportunities on March 11.
Remember to buy an add-on Workshop ticket!
This mid-level workshop will introduce the concepts behind making security part of the product development process. You'll learn what contemporary security threats look like, and how to apply key modern principles and processes to protect your services.
This workshop introduces the best practices for breaking up large procurements at all levels of government and recasting them for success. You'll learn about the differences between and how and when to buy platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and custom software or development, and wll leave with new procurement strategies and sample language to use.
This workshop introduces easy, practical principles to help you to tell the difference between hype and reality with emerging technologies. Learn about the technologies that work behind smart cities, when blockchain might be useful, and what to do with pitches for voice assistants, chatbots and machine learning. You'll leave with a framework for assessing technologies and confidence in making smarter and more strategic decisions.
This introductory workshop for managers and leaders will cover the basic principles of building and expanding successful multi-disciplinary digital service teams. You’ll learn about the hiring pipeline, skills and knowledge development, management challenges and solutions, all with a view towards strategically and sustainably changing organization culture.
This workshop introduces the principles, tools and techniques of design thinking and user-centered design that will help you gain empathy for your users, work strategically and rethink how government delivers outcome-focused services. Learn how to spot pain points, turn them into opportunities and start a radical shift in how you, your team, and your organization works and thinks.
This workshop introduces product management as a discipline for civil servants. Learn why product management is critical in government and create a path forward for developing your skills.
This workshop introduces how prototyping can be used for aligning stakeholders, rapid learning and discovering potential solutions. From defining problems to generating hypotheses, quick hand-drawn sketches to clickable prototypes, you'll learn how to create prototypes, how to learn from them, and how to communicate their value to stakeholders.
This introductory workshop will cover the principles of data governance and data strategy for successful data sharing. You'll leave with an understanding of what makes for practical and successful governance principles and data strategies.
This introductory workshop will be essential for anyone looking to understand the holistic digital service approach. You’ll learn about the principles, history and goals of the approach through the lens of a range of organizations, including the US Digital Service and its sister agency, 18F, state and city-based digital services, and the UK’s Government Digital Service and international efforts. You’ll also learn how all four Summit tracks - Design + Delivery, Civic Innovation + Data, Operations + Management, and Technology + Policy -work together to create successful, transformative digital services.
This introductory workshop for managers and leaders will help you understand the essential skills and knowledge you need to succeed in a multi-disciplinary environment. You’ll explore specific ways to apply skills and knowledge in a real-life team context, and leave with stronger self-awareness as a leader.
Connecting deep tech expertise into advocacy is critical in ensuring that policies at the local, state, and federal level reflect the realities of a technology ecosystem that is evolving at breakneck pace - but making those connections in practice is challenging. This session will feature seasoned tech policy advocates and technologists and the opportunity to workshop strategies for successful and sustainable collaborations.
It often feels like modernization projects have many ways to fail and few to succeed—the throughlines of success can be difficult to find. This workshop is for folks who are charged with planning, evaluating, or executing modernization projects. The facilitators will walk through multiple modernization case studies from work with Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the State of Vermont, and offer lessons learned. The workshop will be a mixture of presentation and participation, and participants are encouraged to bring their own modernization challenges for group discussions. Participants will leave armed with guidelines for planning and executing successful modernization efforts, including how to build healthy team dynamics in high-pressure environments.
The introductory workshop will cover basic data practice principles in a digital service environment. You'll learn operational tips on how to implement a data practice, security practices and considerations, and effective ways of communicating data collection and use with stakeholders and partners.
As the Public Interest Technology (PIT) field grows and matures, we must consider ways to train students to enter the field. New America's Public Interest Technology University Network (PITUN) includes more than 20 colleges and universities. This session will discuss new PIT courses and practicals at universities, as well as give attendees the opportunity to discuss what more can be done to attract students to and develop skills in public interest technology.
Breakout sessions are 60 minute presentations, talks, or panels, taking place on March 12–13.
Schedule coming soon
On March 12, 2020, the US Census Bureau will release its first nationwide internet response option for the decennial census. This modernization of the census is necessary, but also brings with it a range of new challenges, including bridging the digital divide, low digital literacy rates, and the spread of disinformation—all which impact the hardest-to count communities.
New challenges require new approaches to effectively communicate the importance of the census and ensure that everyone is counted. The Census Bureau cannot launch this massive system alone. Learn about efforts at the national, state, and local scale to address these challenges
Be part of a critical dialogue on applying technology, digital tools, and designing effective communication strategies to support ‘Get Out the Count’ efforts across the nation. Learn how you can help, it's on us.
Everyone loses when accessibility is relegated to compliance. Learn how teams are embedding a steel thread of accessibility and inclusive design from discovery through to delivery.
This session will explore the Canadian Digital Service is prioritizing research to help people with low incomes receive the benefits and refunds they're entitled to by making it easier to file their taxes At the Canadian Digital Service, we design for accessibility early and often. This session will illustrate how they prioritize accessibility from the start through research with people with diverse needs, usability testing, accessibility-related design, and development reviews to enable teams to truly build accessible and inclusive services.
Participants will be grouped together and given a list of challenges that exist in applying an accessibility lens to research. This workshop will highlight why embedding accessibility early and often will help create more inclusive services. Attendees will walk away with practical tips on conducting design research, co-creation, and creating more inclusive environments for people with disabilities.
The DMV is the poster child for government dysfunction, but the collective effort of a small group of innovators—hackers, Code for America Brigades, government leaders—proved that the “civic spectrum” can inspire innovation in even the most disliked of bureaucracies.
Learn how one civic hacker developed a DMV website prototype and blogged ideas for change, and how those suggestions were socialized internally by California state government employees who then worked with California Brigades and user tested a new DMV website.
In this session, we'll explore relationships that promote success and contribute to healthy, resilient and antifragile public interest tech ecosystems. BetaNYC will present a framework for Brigades, government agency labs, CTOs, and other public interested/civic tech organizations to:
- define the values that drive their work;
- understand who influences their outcomes; and
- align with their stakeholders and build solidarity networks.
There are a lot of articles coming out these days about how to be an effective distributed employee—but there is much less around on how to be a good distributed team. Truss hired their first distributed employees back in January of 2018, and they're now at 55% outside their “home state” of California. Truss now has 75 employees, only five of which are usually in “the office.” They've had to learn a few things in order to keep the organization functioning and aligned with their values, and have now codified the steadiest of these lessons in a distributed playbook on GitHub. This session will cover known best practices, discover more with the attendees, and once again prove that we're all human behind our computer screens.
Maybe you’re skeptical of the buzzwords and fancy solutions that seem excessive for your stubborn, but potentially simple, problem. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options available. If you’ve wished that someone had already done the research and created an easy guide for the process, this session is for you.
We’ll workshop four common problems agencies face interacting with and supporting clients, and map to potential solutions. Panelists will share their experiences choosing and implementing these for their agency/organization. You’ll leave armed with the practical tools and confidence to identify root challenges, ask the right questions, and choose the fix that really works for your team.
Scaling digital service delivery in a huge ecosystem like the Department of Veterans Affairs poses unique challenges. How do you create a unified Veteran experience when each piece is built by a different vendor? How do you de-risk rapid iteration and deployment with many vendors working at the same time?
Enter the VA.gov platform—our initiative to unite teams across VA in the collective delivery of successful digital services at scale. The platform's tools, templates, training, and support empower any VA team or vendor to use agile, human-centered development and build VA.gov features that measurably improve user outcomes. In this session, you'll hear from VA and product leaders about how they built an effective 21st century platform in compliance with federal technology standards
Every great designed experience starts with the stories of individual humans. At the Center for Civic Design, Dana Chisnell and her team collected thousands of stories from U.S. voters over five years. These stories revealed two massive gaps in the process.
First, people who administer elections and voters have very different mental models on the process of voting. The second gap was between privileged voters and burdened voters. These gaps explained why it’s harder than it should be to vote in the U.S., and showed that policies meant to make things better had unintended consequences that actually make it worse.
This session rolls up years of researching user needs to a profound insight: there's no voter apathy. The ecosystem is designed to burden voters in ways that make it hard to overcome.
Americans deserve affordable, high quality healthcare, which is why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees value-based programs to improve quality and lower costs and increase transparency to the public. Time and money spent reporting clinical data to support CMS quality measurements are hours and dollars added to the total cost of care. Under its "Patients over Paperwork" initiative, CMS partnered with human-centered design experts to make CMS policy and supporting systems more usable and less burdensome. Join this session to learn how, in conjunction with the Patients over Paperwork initiative, they used human-centered design to ensure that the needs and experiences of providers, and ultimately the patients they care for, are reflected in supporting enterprise systems and ultimately, CMS policy.
Our most crucial frontline jobs are often the hardest and the least valued, relying on tools where the user experience is overlooked. Why are these already difficult jobs made harder by the types of tools and systems available?
This session will talk about why these tools fail, then walk through success stories. Where have frontline jobs been made better and more impactful, with workers further empowered? These examples of tech interventions improve workflows and give more autonomy to frontline staff to do the best job for the people they serve.
These are stories of people who know the ins and outs of large-scale policies and programs and deliver them to people who need them, whether it’s opening a small family child care business, finding shelter for the night, applying for entry and asylum at the US border, or being displaced by a natural disaster.
Designers and product owners have a long way to go to make our products, services, interfaces, and experiences more inclusive to Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) users. We have the power and responsibility to include, delight, and protect them—or to upset, marginalize, and even endanger them. This panel will address key questions, including: How can we do better? How can we become aware of our unconscious biases? What unique challenges do TGNC folks face? What can we do to make them feel included and safe? How can research help? When is collecting gender identity information important or necessary? Why is designing for diversity and inclusion more than the cool thing to do, but an ethical decision? A panel of UX designers who dedicated their work to this topic will discuss these questions, and much more.
Codeando Mexico has been working on digitally-enabled citizen engagement for over four years in the three levels of government through different models and projects. During this session, they will talk about best practices around online and offline methodologies for digitally-engaged citizen participation processes in Mexico that have helped increase collective action capacity of municipalities implementing these initiatives—focusing on those that further citizen inclusivity and prioritize government-citizen collaboration in decision making.
In the U.S. today, 44 states and the District of Columbia carry out policies that suspend driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic, toll, and misdemeanor fines and fees, resulting in over 11 million debt-based driver’s license suspensions nationwide. License suspension can have significant negative repercussions for affected individuals in terms of their ability to access housing, jobs, and other important economic opportunities.
While state level legislative reform is required in order to bring systemic relief and opportunities to those whose lives are affected by license suspensions, cities can take actions that provide more immediate impact for their residents. This lightning talk will tell the story of What Works Cities’ partnership with the City of Durham to provide a guided sprint for a cohort of selected cities interested in learning how to effectively launch a local license restoration effort.
The talk will share What Works Cities’ model for using data and evidence to scale solutions across cities, and inspire other cities to use a blueprint like Durham’s to create similar programming of their own to build capacity to end the damaging effect of license suspensions on their city (and county) residents
The Defense Digital Service (DDS) was first established by the Secretary of Defense in November 2015 as a SWAT team of nerds to provide the best in modern technical knowledge to bolster national defense. DDS was born out of the U.S Digital Service, and went from a startup to a stand-alone, trusted team within the DoD, tasked with telling the truth to our government partners.
Over the years, the team has deployed and rapidly responded to a variety of technology challenges within the government, tackling issues to better the lives of service members. Hear from Director Brett Goldstein on how DDS has evolved since its inception, and how the team earned DoD executive buy-in from the ground up.
This session is about how to staff an effective digital service team, either within government or at a contracting firm, such that they are able to accomplish meaningful outcomes. It will cover:
- How to recruit top talent
- Competency-based hiring based on team objectives and to mitigate for unconscious bias
- Prioritizing candidate experience
- Creating interviewer and candidate journeys
- Interviewer training
- How to show the value of modern hiring practices to HR departments
The talk includes learnings and perspectives from the Canadian Digital Service, US Digital Service, and a civic tech contracting firm.
How can human-centered designers can turn insights into action through policy? Using Michigan as a case study, this session will tell the unlikely story of how a small team of designers in Detroit teamed up with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to streamline some of the most restrictive set of safety net policies in the nation. The case study will end with concrete guidance for designers and policymakers on how to turn research into action by putting people first.
Change is hard. System and culture change is harder.
In this session, presenters from the City of Oakland will impart a combination of wisdom and tools to assess your organization’s ability to innovate. This discussion will include an honest interrogation of power (who has it, who needs it, and how it can be democratized), buy-in (social and political), accountability, safety and vulnerability.
Participants will learn learn how to:
- Define “innovation” in your organization
- Determine if an organization is ready for innovation and change
- Understand key indicators that reveal the potential success/failure of ‘innovation’ projects
Based on this information, participants should be able to understand how to save your time, energy, and sanity from investing in projects that aren’t ready for your attention.
Cities, philanthropies, and community groups want to use data driven policies to close racial equity gaps and increase economic mobility for all. However, many city datasets used to work toward these goals are unrepresentative or biased, and risk exacerbating existing disparities. To tackle this problem, the Urban Institute has built a free Equity Assessment Tool. Users can upload any spatial dataset with latitude/longitude coordinates and the tool will assess demographic and geographic representativeness using reference data—all within seconds. The hope is that this tool can be put to use holding cities accountable for driving progress towards closing racial equity gaps and increasing economic mobility for all. Join this session to learn more about the tool and examples of its use, offer feedback on improvements, and brainstorm future directions.
Panelists will discuss how they've leveraged user-centered design principles and created journey maps to increase access to justice. Building off a partnership with its local law school the City of Kansas City, KS built a digital services pilot to make court services more accessible and user friendly. During the process, the City journey mapped dozens of services, and in the process of doing so confirmed concerns around access to justice issues.
During this session, the panelists will discuss 1) how they've built a strong community partnership leveraging their local tech and policy ecosystem to help do this work 2) how governments can build journey maps to highlight policy, operations and/or simply implement web/content changes 3) how to empower and engage employees at all levels in the process of identifying service gaps and delivering better customer service
As local and state governments around the United States increasingly look to share open data, many are also seeking more explicit policies to guide these efforts. This has led over 120 such governments to pass open data policies.
If you’re a government official (or interested community member) looking to create/update an open data policy, you may have questions about key issues around both process and substance. At the Sunlight Foundation, we’ve helped over 60 U.S. cities pass open data policies, and can share many strategies and best practices.
This session will cover many key topics, including: privacy, data governance, dataset prioritization, licensing, and data formats. We’ll also discuss the advantages/disadvantages of different implementation methods (e.g. legislation, resolutions, executive orders, administrative policies). Finally, we’ll explore community engagement around open data.
Hear about the start-to-finish, zig-zagging journey of setting up one of the first state-level digital service teams in the country.
The effort started in the middle of a gubernatorial campaign season, lobbying both candidates’ teams on why their administrations should stand up a digital service program. Then, after Jared Polis was elected, a dozen friends and colleagues volunteered for a two-week discovery sprint on the state’s most at-risk technology project to demonstrate the benefits of a cross-functional team with strong product and agile backgrounds.
That discovery sprint report led to legislative hearings, and eventually, an emergency funding approval to launch the Colorado Digital Service. While perhaps an unconventional origin story, there’s a lot other state teams can take away from Colorado's experience.
Product Operations (“ProductOps”) builds the foundation for product and delivery excellence by reinforcing product strategy with metrics, infrastructure, business processes, and best practices. It brings operational discipline to large, complex modern government programs, enabling program managers to maximize the value and outcomes their teams deliver. In this talk, Ivana Ng, Director of Product at Nava PBC, will draw on her experiences co-building ProductOps and product management practices at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to show what ProductOps looks like in reality, and how it can level up your program. Attendees will walk away with a toolkit of frameworks, templates and plays to improve product and deliver operations within their own organizations.
New policies and initiatives don't always need custom software to get off the ground. In this interactive session, we'll go over how to find and evaluate an off-the-shelf software solution, what features to look for, and how to manage its use. We'll also consider data portability and how to plan for scale. Attendees will leave the session with a clear understanding of how they can best leverage commercial off-the-shelf software for their agencies.
The United States leads the world in incarceration. Currently, 2.2 million people are held in the nation's prisons and jails, a 500% increase over the last 40 years. We know this issue dispraportionatly affects black and brown Americans, with black men being six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men . A key portion of criminal justice reform includes everything that occurs at arrest through the pretrial period. We'll talk through the challenges of reforming this portion of the system and some of the policies and tools currently being deployed and tested to affect change.
Many of our nation’s best and brightest feel called to work in civic tech by the opportunity to use their skills to make a positive impact on the world. But the challenges of working with (or within) government are profound, and add a constant and inescapable friction. Furthermore, it can be hard to justify setting boundaries with work when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. When these realities collide with the passion and drive of many civic technologists, it becomes a recipe for lasting burnout.
Since transformation in government is a marathon, not a sprint, we must learn how to care for ourselves if we want to stay in the game long enough to make real, sustainable change. In this session, public servants and civic technologists who’ve been through burnout and back will candidly explore their experiences, and offer practical advice on how you and your team can prevent (or recover from) burnout
Two-week agile sprints are so focused on delivery, they don’t leave much time to collaborate and properly scope features. Additionally, with a lot of team members new to working on digital products, some don’t know what kind of feedback to provide or are afraid to speak up with their insights. We often miss things that should have been taken into account. Inspired by the book Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters by Basecamp’s Ryan Singer, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue is trying to solve these problems by exploring ways to slow down their process into cross-functional phases and allow for more collaboration and teaching moments during both the design and build phases. Attendees will hear a case study and the lessons we learned from it.
In 2018, scooter share deployed suddenly on the streets of Minneapolis. The City moved quickly to put in place basic policies for shared mobility providers, but did not have time to make sure the outcomes would match the City’s priorities of equity and resilience. With a Minnesota winter on their side, the City’s mobility team analyzed the 2018 scooter share program using newly discovered internal data analytics capabilities, and launch a revamped 2019 scooter pilot that flipped the script to focus on community outcomes first. With data to tell the story, the team created a successful pilot that led to Mobility Hub and Mobility-as-a-Service pilot programs that focused on Areas of Concentrated Poverty where greater than 50% of residents are people of color.
Agencies put a lot of work into writing request for proposals. Bidders put in a lot of work writing proposals. As an agency, how can you understand if a bidder is really going to collaborate with you the way you’re hoping? How do you know whether a vendor really practices what they preach or if they are just stringing together buzz words? As a bidder, how should you interpret the new procurement strategies agencies are trying? How can you position yourself as a partner and show that you can deliver value while keeping scope in mind? 18F will discuss evaluation advice we’re giving agencies and what makes great bidders stand out.
Business Insider forecasts that there will be more than 64 billion Internet of Things devices in use by 2025. Manufacturers of everything from fitness trackers to connected lighting systems are building new IoT products. However, some of these companies have little digital security experience, and poorly-designed connected devices can pose huge privacy and security risks. How can governments, businesses and consumers make informed choices when they purchase new products? A coalition of civil society organizations and Consumer Reports magazine have developed a tool called the Digital Standard, which allows people to evaluate the privacy and security of IoT devices.
This session will provide participants a brief overview of privacy and security best practices, followed by an interactive portion that allows users to “test” devices they use every day
The federal immigration system detains half a million people per year and deports particularly vulnerable people (including those without attorneys and even U.S. citizens) without meaningful legal process. A key impediment to reforming this system is the opacity of the Department of Homeland Security, which regularly withholds data from the public. Limited subsets of data are made publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act, yet the format, availability, and completeness of these datasets are insufficient for understanding how people move through the system from the point of apprehension to detention to deportation. This session will address challenges to aligning datasets across government agencies and discuss how policy interventions and collaboration around a public repository of data and code can overcome these challenges.
The Policy Innovation Lab—a course at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University—is designed to introduce students to an agile-driven, human-centered design approach to addressing pressing issues for real-world partners, following best practices introduced by digital service teams. Attendees will hear from course instructors and students on course materials and resources, as well as a case study in a student team’s recent work on increasing voter turnout through local and state elections through Vote.gov.
Why does government IT change take so long? What can we do to nudge change, and are we on the verge of a shift in the plates that will suddenly alter the landscape?
Government IT procurement and project management are different from other industries, and government processes weren’t designed for today’s pace of technological change. As a City IT Director, Sanford Hess will share lessons from the trenches and perspective for those frustrated with the slow pace of government.
Understanding government IT culture, and the limitations imposed on governments from within, are the first steps. Fighting against these trends is unproductive, but there are ways to work with the system. It can be slow, arduous, and frustrating–but change can happen. You can be part of the solution, nationally or in your own community. Warning: this session provides perspective, insight, and tips… but no magic bullets.
BetaNYC has developed a series of Open Data Courses (with the help of municipal partners) that have been taught in workshop and training events throughout New York City. Recently, BetaNYC worked in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics and the Queens Public Library to train NYC Open Data Queens Borough Ambassadors. These ambassadors were trained in the curriculum and are now leading open data training at branches across the Queens Public Library network. In this breakout session, they will present their work and share materials to encourage other Brigades, community members, and government entities to consider the train-the-trainer model to help disseminate open data and civic tech resources through our communities.
The City of Philadelphia’s Service Design Studio partnered with the Office of Homeless Services to answer the following question: What does trauma-informed service delivery look like for people experiencing homelessness and the staff who support them?
Philadelphians facing homelessness arrive at the City’s access sites in their most vulnerable state. It’s at this time they must navigate paperwork and processes that can seem confusing and opaque. Staff can likewise experience vicarious trauma while helping those in need within a highly resource-constrained environment—leading to feelings of powerlessness and ultimately, burnout.
In this session, panelists will discuss how they engaged over 220 stakeholders in a participatory service design process to understand their lived experiences and collectively design trauma-informed solutions that improve services and help those who need them.
Government purchasing procedures are structured to promote a fair, open, and responsible process. But these same procedures can unintentionally restrict the public sector’s ability to take advantage of emerging technologies, and to work with different types of businesses.
To remedy these issues, governments across the country are utilizing the growing govtech market as an opportunity to reform and implement new procurement procedures that maintain an open and fair process, enable government staff to work with a greater diversity of businesses, and to actually collaborate with vendors to inform the development and purchasing of technology solutions that only serve real needs.
In this session, attendees will learn how local and state governments are using a procurement methodology to digitize services, deliver improved services to the community, advance economic development, collaborate and contract with small and minority-owned businesses, and foster a “can-do” culture among staff and between departments.
Lightning talks are 7–10 minute presentations taking place across three time slots on March 12–13.
Schedule coming soon
“Product” means a lot of things in private sector, and it gets even murkier in the government space. How do you define—and hire—for such an important but ambiguous role?
The USDS Director of Product will walk through the process they used to re-evaluate, from scratch, their entire Product community, and how they used that to re-build their hiring pipeline to match the work USDS staffers actually do every day (spoiler alert: it's complicated).
You don't have to be the best to be successful. Just be really good at stealing from the best.
The City of Chattanooga often takes the best ideas it sees from larger cities (many of them heard first at Code for America Summits) and implements them locally. Panelists will talk about how Chattanooga uses best HR hiring practices from the Austin's delivery team, front line staff continuous improvement training from Denver's Peak Academy, upskilling data experts from San Francisco's Data Academy, and much more. If you can't keep up with all the innovation happening in cities these days, don't feel like you have to reinvent the wheel—just steal it!
Most engineering needs in the civic tech space fit problems that have been solved before. While it can be tempting to bring in bleeding-edge technology to do our work, the civic tech space is exactly where we shouldn't do that: where we need to stick to languages, frameworks, and stacks that have been around for at least a few years. This talk will explore why civic technologists should avoid reinventing the wheel, as well as why this work is still, in fact, interesting, and where the opportunities for innovation really lie.
The upcoming redistricting in 2021 adds urgency to the need for the public’s access to data. In past decades, the only people with access to such data have been politicians drawing the lines; this time around, things will be different. Putting open source redistricting tools in the hands of journalists, citizen activists, and reformers is a critical goal of OpenPrecincts, a database of electoral precinct data. Join this session to learn how the Princeton Gerrymandering Project is building coalitions of tech and policy workers in order to prevent gerrymandering in the decade ahead.
Government teams are increasingly adopting service design—but in order for our services to be responsive to user needs, we need help clearing the way for government-led user research.
Ops people have a role in making this happen. This lightning talk will discuss what it means to “operationalize user research” in government, including everything from tools for researchers, forms for lawyers, and oversight structures for managers and contracting officers. Panelists will share what’s worked—and what hasn’t—as they’ve tried to elevate the status of user research in federal government service design projects. Attendees will leave with a shortlist of ideas that will help them clear bureaucratic hurdles so that they can spend more time responding to the needs of their users than they do the anxieties of their colleagues.
Mission-driven work is rewarding and exhilarating, but also exhausting (and sometimes exasperating). We do this work because we care about the communities we serve and the people we work with. We know that healthy communications and universal empathy on projects is critical to building impactful public services. However, rarely do we discuss public service burnout—short deadlines, limited resources, personalities, public pressure—and the impact it has on those that do the day-to-day work.
To best maintain sustainability (and sanity), we must ask ourselves, “How do public service teams find balance so we don’t keep burning out?” Learn how one simple, honest, transparent act—the Balance Score—helps projects maintain a culture of presence and stay focused and effective despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges and never-ending demands of public service
When the City of Pittsburgh grew tired of gridlock traffic, they came to Carnegie Mellon University for help. The result was Scalable Urban Traffic Control (Surtrac): an intelligent traffic signal control system that coordinated traffic signals and improved traffic flow. While this addressed the traffic problem, the deployment soon hit a snag: as signals were originally designed to look for only vehicles, residents feared that Surtrac favored drivers and made the streets unsafe for pedestrians.
The City of Pittsburgh heeded this feedback. Taking a human-centered design focus, the city collaborated with Carnegie Mellon to develop Surtrac 2.0: Surtrac for the people. As the deployment of Surtrac showed, policy implications and unintended consequences of a technological intervention are often not seen until they are utilized in a testbed, where citizens can voice their concerns.
If we’re going to build amazing public services, getting user feedback is critical.
However, even more important is helping public service professionals find their “inner user researcher” so that they can pair their domain expertise with a heightened sense of inquiry and solve the right problems.
What many don’t realize is that user research is more similar to public service work than we think. Based on experiences working with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, California DMV, and various enterprise clients, this lightning talk will discuss how to quickly train internal esrvice workers to do user research.
Technologists, founders, and innovative public officials are pushing the envelope, but how far should we go? What are the limits of "Possibility Government"? In trying new—and therefore, risky—things, should we go so far as the vote? Or, are there some areas, like voting and the related apparatus of democracy, that should be reserved for more tried and true methods? In 2018, a founder, a Secretary of State, and a startup "fixer" joined together to pilot mobile voting. They were praised in some corners and excoriated in others. Mitchell Weiss will share brief reflections on this episode, on other democracy inventors, and on the history of experimentation in American government.
Are pockets of innovation springing up all around you, but coordination isn’t happening? Do several agencies need similar technology, yet they all independently procure systems? How do we get folks on the same page to create efficient systems and spend dollars wisely? Come learn how Salt Lake County developed an effective IT governance structure that brings together the voices of technological, operational and policy-level experts to tackle the obstacles we face every day: system, budgetary, and procurement. Salt Lake County will share how their IT Governance Structure has become a model of inclusion and representation and is driving not only efficiency and collaboration, but also innovation.
Cities have a responsibility to protect their residents’ privacy, ensure their data is protected, and mitigate any risk associated with the various data they collect. In this lightning talk, participants will hear from an expert about two foundational data practices that are critical for cities to employ in order to ensure government-held data is secure.
In sharing key insights about these standards, Jenn will share examples of cities that exemplify best practices and ideas for what city leaders, staff, and partners can do to make progress in these areas, including smaller municipalities that may not have the degree of resources enjoyed by their larger peers.
In civic tech, it can seem as if we are building linear solutions in a world of exponential risk. But when aligned properly, product delivery can go beyond solving a problem and add up to government- and industry-wide change. Join a discussion about how small teams can align product decisions to inform and implement policy change at scale. The U.S. Digital Service will talk about how it is expanding its impact and the larger forces at play in civic tech, but attendees are welcome to contribute their own challenges and victories. Takeaways include practical advice and free resources to increase technical capacity while pursuing modern policy objectives.
Most nations rely on institutions designed in the 19th century and technology developed in the 20th century to solve the challenges of the 21st century. The results are predictable. Governments are losing $7 trillion each year due to corruption, tax avoidance, and improper payments. Institutional dysfunction underlies a broad range of societal problems and has emerged as a primary driver of popular anger.
Digital governance platforms have proven their ability to address these challenges with astonishing results, delivering unprecedented improvements in accountability, efficiency, transparency, and trust. New America is building upon the successful deployment of digital governance platforms in Estonia, India, the Republic of Georgia and West Virginia to develop, deploy and scale open source platforms addressing core government functions ranging from benefits and revenue management to citizen participation. Together, these "institutions-in-a-box" will form the core of an integrated, customizable government operating system for effective institutions worldwide.
This lightning talk will focus on Code for America's work on text message notifications for safety net benefits programs, used in California and Louisiana across SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, and TANF. It will center on the question: How can text messaging be used to improve client outcomes in social services? A senior product manager and data scientist will present results and lessons learned that can be used by other programs.
Learn how to build diverse and inclusive listening session invitation lists and stakeholder outreach strategies to create effective tech policy that considers perspectives from myriad stakeholders. Rather than discover the final policy has negative, unintended consequences due to inadequate outreach and engagement, this lightning talk will share how to improve stakeholder engagement and create community distribution and invitation lists to better inform tech policy development and implementation. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”