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18F’s four favorite projects of 2018

To continue our birthday celebrations, we’re saluting those projects and partners that inspired our team to do their best to improve the user experience of government. We asked staff from acquisitions to strategy to share what project they loved working on during the past year. We received many fabulous nominations, and we’re sharing with you the top four submissions (in no particular order).

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Electronic Advanced Planning Document

Greg Walker, Engineering

About the project

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) gives funding to states each year to build and operate their Medicaid IT systems. The Advanced Planning Document (APD) is the document states use to describe their projects and request funding. Our goal was to begin to standardize the APD and strip it down to the simplest document possible for CMS to make good, quick decisions.

Why is it meaningful?

Standardizing the form would help states by reducing their burden in creating the documents and also hopefully help get their documents through the review process more quickly. Furthermore, the documents require a lot of complicated math where states routinely make mistakes (as humans do), so we want to leverage computers’ ability to do math to help eliminate those mistakes.

Positive outcomes

We’re building an online APD form that asks for as little information as possible and calculates budget totals for the entire request automatically. It’s still in progress, but state users and our CMS partners have shown a lot of enthusiasm about being able to use it. In addition, this project has helped the 18F team become knowledgeable about CMS pathways and gain a better understanding of how policies and requirements affect states’ abilities to produce or procure high-quality software products. This new knowledge will help us better serve future state partners modernizing their Medicaid IT.

FedRAMP dashboard

Laura Gerhardt, Engineering

About the project

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. The purpose of the FedRAMP Dashboard project is to create a publicly available, web-based responsive dashboard providing greater visibility and up-to-date status for vendors going through the FedRAMP authorization process.

Why is it meaningful?

The dashboard provides many benefits to the FedRAMP user community including increased transparency associated with vendors that have achieved FedRAMP status, authorization timelines, and specific agencies that are using FedRAMP authorized cloud services. Additionally, Third Party Assessment Organizations (3PAOs) are also listed on the marketplace to reflect auditors that are capable of performing the FedRAMP assessment. The marketplace improves FedRAMP’s stakeholders’ ability to make timely and informed decisions and allows government and industry to get better insights into cloud adoption.

Positive outcomes

The dashboard made it easier for agency users to find what products were authorized and improved the transparency of when products would become authorized. We were also able to build a user-centered interface in 60 days using mostly the Google tools that GSA provides, reducing the amount of infrastructure. The site has barely needed any maintenance since its inception.

U.S. Marine Corps Logistics IT

Sarah Eckert, Strategy

About the project

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics asked 18F to explore how to better manage data and improve their logistics operations. Like other large hierarchical organizations, USMC faces challenges in using data to streamline operations and improve efficiency. 18F’s work with the USMC will result in a new strategy for making strategic use of logistics data and the adoption of new practices for adopting technology quickly and cost effectively.

Why is it meaningful?

The way that the USMC and other armed services provide national defense today is fundamentally different than a generation ago. Our armed forces need to be leaner, smarter, and make better use of technology and data-enabled logistics.The goal is to expand these new processes beyond logistics to the entire Marine Corps.

In addition, we’ve been able to collaborate with our GSA colleagues in the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program to better ensure the success of this project. This is one example of different organizations within TTS collaborating on helping a partner adopt new innovative practices.

Positive outcomes

The USMC had an enthusiastic reaction to the recommendations from our initial phase of work, and now the team is working with the USMC to prove that services can be delivered in months rather than years. We’re creating a coalition across the USMC to pilot a streamlined delivery process built on agile, DevOps/product thinking, and modular contracting. The interest we have received from within the logistics community and higher echelons within the USMC indicate that these new practices could be widely adopted across the Marine Corps.

U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command

Andrew Suprenant, Product

About the project

The U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) supports the Navy and Marine Corps aviation fleets to ensure they keep flying and accomplish their missions. We worked with our partners at NAVAIR to investigate how to improve the quality and utility of data they collect and also create a strategic path for using data analytics to improve how NAVAIR supports its core mission of fleet readiness.

Why is it meaningful?

To keep aircraft effectively flying their critical missions, NAVAIR makes sure it has two things: a good understanding of the type and amount of fleet maintenance that needs to be done (for example, a certain amount of helicopters that need painting or jets that might need a certain level of repair) and confidence that they have the right amount and skill level of artisans (welders, electricians, and the like) to do the work.

Positive outcomes

We partnered with their analytics team to develop a clearer understanding of issues, particularly around human resources, that were impacting fleet readiness. Then, we paired with the digital team’s analysts to develop prototypes while deepening their analytic skills. We also made recommendations to build on these efforts while improving overall data quality at NAVAIR and proposing an organizational model to formalize and share data analysis practices throughout the command.

In the end, our recommendations resonated with the partner and paved the way to help them better identify past trends and plan for the future to better support the Navy and Marine Corps aircraft fleets.

This work helped deepen 18F’s portfolio work on data analytics products, reinforcing how we can blend quantitative data science with user research. We also shared feedback gathered in this project with the 18F Strategy Chapter to help us improve how we run Path Analysis projects, especially those with a strong data analytics component.

Some other projects that made the list were Alaska Medicaid, USFS Open Forest, and We’re grateful to all of our partners in the last five years, and we’ll continue working with government agencies to build successful projects now and assist with their modernization efforts into the future.

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