What is 18F?
A) A team of innovators, recruited from the private sector and public
B) In-house designers, developers, and product people making government services simple and easy to use for the American people.
C) A new unit of the General Services Administration focused on IT delivery, housed in the agency headquarters at 18th & F Streets in NW DC.
D) All of the above.
You guessed it. The correct answer is D – All of the above.
18F is a startup within GSA, encompassing the Presidential Innovation Fellows program and a cutting edge digital delivery team. We’re doers, recruited from the most innovative corners of industry and the public sector, who are passionate about “hacking” bureaucracy to drive efficiency, transparency, and savings for government agencies and the American people.
But what do we actually do?
- Partner with agencies to deliver high quality in-house digital services using agile methodologies pioneered by top technology startups.
- Rapidly deploy working prototypes using Lean Startup principles to get a desired product into a customer’s hands faster.
- Offer digital tools and services that result in governmentwide reuse and savings, allowing agencies to reinvest in their core missions.
- We’re transparent about our work, develop in the open, and commit to continuous improvement.
How do we do it?
First and foremost, by being focused on our users. We provide effective user-centered services focused on the interaction between government and the public it serves. At 18F, we want to build the 21st century government you deserve.
Agencies should see 18F as a new way to procure, build and deliver innovative technology, digital services, and public-facing applications. We operate using three models: for you, with you, or by you. We can build your solution for you; work with your team and provide additional expertise or core capacity; or consult on how to build or buy user-centric interfaces most effectively. 18F’s team of experts is here to help. After all, we all share the same goal of delivering incredible, easy-to-use digital services for the people and businesses we serve.
Open source code invites participation by talented and creative people, and we harness great open source projects in the service of our partner agencies. We use Agile Methods, the latest technologies, rapid prototyping, and great design to deliver our software. Our stack is modern and flexible, using Python, Ruby, Node, WebFlow, SOLR, ElasticSearch, NoSQL, and d3. Next month there may be something new — the most important thing we’ve learned is to never stop learning.
“It is not enough to adapt to today’s demands, we must anticipate the changes that Americans expect from government.” Dan Tangherlini, Administrator, GSA
Like lean startup, we favor experimentation, customer feedback and analytics, and iterative design over a sequential “waterfall” model. (Read more about “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything” in Harvard Business Review.) If startups and companies like General Electric can do it, why not the U.S. Government? Our goal with this approach is two-fold: build user-centered digital services, and prove that building technology in an agile manner is possible in government at scale. Let us know how we can help you, and how you can help us (hint: we want you!).