Working in the open is a key component of building trust between governments and vendor partners. Read about how the State of Alaska is using openness and code sharing to foster greater trust between government project teams and vendor teams as part of a large legacy system overhaul.
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Modernizing access to healthcare
Modernizing public benefit eligibility systems
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services administers public benefit programs, including Medicaid, for the State of Alaska.
Their eligibility systems have performed well in the past, but the now outdated technology can make it difficult and time-consuming to make modifications in response to federal or state policy changes. The Department approached 18F to help them devise a procurement strategy and develop practices that would deliver better service to Alaskans in need and allow the State to be more responsive to policymakers in both Juneau and Washington.
Finding the right vendors through modular contracting and an open process
Building on the work we’re doing with other states, 18F is helping introduce modular contracting, agile software development, DevOps, and user-centered design to the State of Alaska’s eligibility system modernization project.
During the course of this project, we’ve assisted the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services in releasing, awarding, and managing its very first modular procurement. To do this, we used a transparent procurement process starting with laying out the product vision statement, strategy, and roadmap in a publicly-accessible GitHub repository. In support of this work, we also helped the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services develop and adopt a CI/CD pipeline, build lean prototypes to de-risk technology issues, embrace open source for their procurement work, and develop their first ever product roadmap.
This project has the potential to change not only the way that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services approaches legacy system modernization but to have an impact on other agencies across the state as well.
The process of developing and issuing RFPs is often viewed as a one off - a special activity that occurs infrequently and in isolation. What if we applied the principles of iteration and continuous improvement to the way that RFPs are developed?
Adopting this “smaller is better” mindset as a way to overhaul a large, complex legacy system can feel counterintuitive. But the notion of smallness — of distilling complex, interdependent tasks into achievable units of work — is fundamental to building modern software in both the private and public sector.