18F’s engineering craft practices at 10

18F has grown and matured as an organization over time. We recently celebrated our 10th anniversary delivering better government services to the public. As we have grown, so has our care and feeding of our own tools, processes, and best practices. To support continual investment in our practices, we are renewing our commitment to regularly publishing what we learn, and creating a new engineering leadership role at 18F.

Renewing our commitment to sharing our work

Every quarter, we will choose a theme. We will base the selection on problems that our engineers are seeing as they work on delivering technology in government. During the quarter, we will run activities, create resources, and then share what we learn.

Here is what you can expect:

  • Updates and additions to 18F’s Engineering Guide
  • Public tech talks on improving government service delivery
  • Public blog posts (like this one) about what we learn

If these sound like familiar activities, that is because 18F engineers have been doing this sort of work for a long time. You may know us from previous hits such as:

Based on recent project experiences, next quarter we will be focusing on the theme of launching software projects. We look forward to creating and sharing brand new resources within 18F and the broader community.

Introducing principal engineers

Another investment we are making is the creation of a principal consulting engineer role. This new role is a career role in the competitive service, meaning we now have engineers in the chapter without term limits. We hired principal consulting engineers with a mandate to:

  • Help our partner agencies deliver better digital services to the public
  • Help other 18F engineers develop skills necessary to build and deploy software in government
  • Guide 18F’s efforts to improve how engineers learn, share, and iterate on our best practices.

18F brings engineers from the private sector into government. We need to help them ramp up quickly on how to be effective in a government context. Hiring permanent principal consulting engineers will help us do this more effectively.

For more than 10 years, 18F has published guides and methods that have been widely referenced and cited across government technology. Principal consulting engineers will help us grow and improve the guidance we offer the community, and provide continued institutional knowledge for 18F.

We know that many engineering organizations are experimenting with non-supervisory leadership roles like principal engineers and staff engineers. Principal consulting engineers are our version of those roles. We look forward to sharing both the outcomes from this new role, and what we learn along the way.

If these topics sound interesting to your engineering organization, talk to us: 18F@gsa.gov.