Digital Transformation of Government with Sarah Allen

sarah-allen

“When we say a ‘21st century government’, what we’re seeing is that people are using their smartphones, they’re online, and we have the potential to actually deliver better services to our people at dramatically lower costs.”

Governments are often laggards in the adoption of new technology. Every aspect of life, from transportation to healthcare, are being affected by the convergence of several trends including connected mobile devices, cloud storage and distributed systems. Yet federal services are in many cases still incapable of delivering the best and most affordable services to citizens.

The most visible instance of the U.S. government struggling to modernize was the implementation of Healthcare.gov. What was originally a modest budget for deploying the web marketplace of the Affordable Care Act ballooned into a costly implementation that required hiring external consultants and developers to fix. In response to this dysfunction, 18F was formed with the mission to simplify the government’s digital services. Sarah joins Software Engineering Daily to explain how and why 18F was formed, and how it plans to improve government from within in the years to come.

Sarah Allen is a Presidential Innovation Fellow who serves as a developer and product manager for 18F. She is also a co-founder of Bridge Foundry, an organization that helps encourage and empower people who are learning to code.

Questions

  • What are the differences between building a successful company versus building a successful government organization?
  • Can you combat government’s slowness with the spirit of “delivery as the strategy”?
  • In an ideal world, what is the relationship between politics and software?
  • Were the struggles associated with healthcare.gov important for the genesis of the USDS?
  • How did Bridge Foundry get started?
  • What was it like to build a technology product in 1995?

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