On May 3, Administrator Denise Turner Roth announced the creation of the Technology Transformation Service as the third GSA service for federal agencies alongside the Public Buildings Service and Federal Acquisition Service. The goal is simple: deliver the best technology, support, advice, and solutions to the American people.
The new service accomplishes this goal by helping agencies build, buy, and share user-centered and emerging technology solutions that build on the work 18F has been delivering over the past two years. A great example of this work is the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) interactive website, which improves transparency and accountability by making it easier for the American people to see how much revenue the government collects from natural resources.
The website was developed by 18F in partnership with the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). We spoke with Judy Wilson, the USEITI product owner, about how working with 18F helped her organization transform their team’s approach to technology.
“18F has been informative and instrumental in helping us understand user centered design and understand how to embark on the agile development process.”
18F uses agile development techniques and user centered design to build all of their products. This means they make small improvements to their products, go out and test them with real users, and then come back to improve the product based on that user feedback. This is a common technique in the private industry, and something GSA is bringing to other federal agencies through projects like EITI.
“One of the beauties of how 18F works is that everything is open source. That open source software that is an Administration initiative is so valuable to other countries. We have been approached by quite a few countries and it will be exciting to see how websites develop.”
The EITI website that 18F built with Wilson and her team is completely open source and available for free to other agencies and countries who would like to adapt it to display their data. Making this product open source has helped the Department of the Interior become a leader in the global EITI community and become a model for how to increase transparency using modern technology.
“It hasn’t just been 18F coming and telling us ‘this is what you need to do.’ It’s them saying ‘these are the processes we can use. We can help you learn these processes and understand why they are important.’ In turn, that will help in supporting DOI. It will help inform how we apply ourselves to these opportunities.”
When 18F works with partner agencies, they work together, hand-in-hand building trust and confidence in the methods being used to deliver the product. By incorporating agile development, user centered design, open source software, and a collaborative working process, 18F delivered a quality solution that improved transparency and fostered a more effective government. It may seem like a small step, but sites like these can have a big impact on how the government delivers services to the public.
This is how transformation happens – it’s the delivery of culture, everyday practices, and end goal services. This is the transformation that the Third Service will build and expand on.