18F is a growing group of technologists, designers, and researchers from around the country who are committed to making government services simpler and easier to use. We put the needs of the American people first, we work in the open to make our products stronger, and we are design-centric, agile, open, and data-driven.
"If you have questions, we've got answers."
What 18F has accomplished
We helped the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launch myUSCIS, a platform that allows users to easily access information about the immigration process and find immigration options for which they may qualify. Re-imagining the immigration process meant moving from a form-centric website to a human-centric one. We worked closely with USCIS across multiple disciplines to create a suite of resources and tools to demystify the naturalization process, move application forms online, and design an improved account system for applicants.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has long been a pioneer of open data, but 18F was able to help the FEC build its first public API and a new website on top of that API. This site helps make campaign finance information more accessible to the public, as part of a larger redesign of the FEC’s online presence. Read more about the site and why we’ve released it as a beta.
The College Scorecard site is an example of what 18F can do to help your agency provide an interactive, well-designed way for the public to access your data. We worked with the U.S. Digital Service and the Department of Education to build College Scorecard to give students and their families access to previously unreleased data about colleges and universities so they can make better decisions. The site is built on top of a public API, which also allows private individuals and companies to use the data. Read more about the College Scorecard project.
Draft U.S. Web Design Standards
In collaboration with the U.S. Digital Service, we created a collection of design patterns and user interface toolkits to help agencies focus on building their website or application without reinventing trustable, accessible solutions to common government problems. The Draft Standards includes typography and color recommendations that are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (the federal standard for accessibility), as well as a collection of foundational interface elements for government sites and the code that powers them. We have blogged about our work on these standards several times.
You can now view a dashboard of analytics data from the websites of agencies participating in GSA's Digital Analytics Program. The basic dashboard has three views: one showing how many people are on government websites right now; the other two show the most popular pages on government sites in the last seven and 30 days. In 2016, we added agency-specific pages to the dashboard, allowing users to see the same data for several departments as well as across the entire government. This open source project has been adapted for use in other city and state governments.
cloud.gov includes a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) specifically built for government, based on the open source Cloud Foundry. It provides a secure, scalable platform for teams to build and host their application or website. It can help development teams work faster and cheaper by handling much of their deployment complexity. The cloud.gov platform is currently in a small pilot program, but we will be expanding access over time.
Wage and Hour Division Field Operations Handbook
In two days, our consulting team was able to work with a team at the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to take the four-volume, printed Field Operations Handbook and create an internal prototype of an online, searchable version. We were also able to demonstrate the power of using agile design and development methods.
RFP Ghostwriting with the State of California
We partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services, the State of California, and Code for America to draft a request for proposal (RFP) to fix the state's child welfare case management system. This system is used by more than 20,000 social workers to track and manage the more than 500,000 cases of child abuse and neglect that are reported in California each year. 18F's two-day RFP ghostwriting workshop got stakeholders on board with modular contracting and modern development methodologies, and helped the state trim their initial 1,500 page RFP into two 70-page documents.
Every Kid in a Park
In collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior, The White House, and other federal agencies, 18F built a website to help U.S. fourth graders obtain their free pass to national lands and waters. The site is specially designed to be used by kids (its primary users).
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (U.S. EITI)
After holding a design studio for the Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resource Revenues, 18F was able to build the first iteration of the U.S. implementation of a global project to bring transparency into natural resource management and the money paid to the government on public land leased to private companies. In preparation for Interior's first EITI report, the team continued to iterate and test their product with users across the United States. We've written about this project several times on the 18F blog.
CALC and Discovery
In two of our first projects, 18F worked with Federal Acquisition Service employees to create market research tools to help write better contracts and find better vendors to include in blanket purchase agreements. In addition to GSA contracting officers, CALC is also being used by the City of Boston.
18F projects adapted by other organizations
Here are some examples of how our projects have been adapted by others:
- A number of governments have used/adapted the code that powers analytics.usa.gov
- The District of Columbia adapted 18F's Guides Template into their own, which they are using for things like the DC Government Open Source Guidelines.
- Lovely, a real estate startup, created their documentation platform by adapting the code created for 18F's Hub. The Hub helps 18F organize our information and explore the connections between team members, projects, and skill sets. It serves as the go-to place for all team information.
- Pulse was forked to check German government domains for HTTPS.
- Many sites have adopted the Draft U.S. Web Design Standards.
- AWS Broker for Cloud Foundry is in use by Australia's cloud.gov.au.
18F's relationship with the U.S. Digital Service
18F and the U.S. Digital Service are distinct groups working toward the same vision of better digital government. 18F is a digital consultancy in an independent agency (GSA) and provides products and services to federal entities on a fee-for-service basis. The U.S. Digital Service is part of the Executive Office of the President and the United States CIO, supporting and coordinating the work of various digital service teams housed in agencies across the federal government.
Basic information on 18F’s history
GSA launched 18F on March 19, 2014. The name is an abbreviation for GSA’s address — 1800 F St.
The 18F team started with 15 full time staff. Staffing has grown to over 180 as of May 2016, as 18F’s product and client work has increased.
How 18F Works
18F works in partnership with agencies across government on a reimbursable basis. We deliver public-facing services via web applications, data and service Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and platforms. 18F operates using three basic models:
- For you: Building solutions for an agency
- With you: Integrating with an agency team to provide additional expertise or core capacity
- By you: Advising an agency on how to build or buy user-centric digital services most effectively
18F is an open source team. It uses open source development to transparently promote the security, quality, and modularity of our code and to invite review, participation, and free and simple reuse of our efforts by government agencies, the business community, and the public.
How 18F is funded
18F charges clients on a break even basis for the services we deliver. Revenue generated from these charges is held in the Acquisition Services Fund where it is made available for current and future operating expenses.