Building Obama’s lean startup in America’s biggest bureaucracy — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From TechBeacon

What do you do when tasked with making the US government work like a lean startup? “Just start,” advises Hillary Hartley. Or, as we say in startup country: “JFDI.”

Hartley is the cofounder and deputy executive director of 18F, a government organization that causes quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, it’s a team firmly embedded within the 11,495-person General Services Administration (GSA), with a $23.9 billion operating budget. Yet its website explains that it’s “built in the spirit of America’s top tech startups.”

Launching a lean startup in the federal government

18F is one of the “Obama lean startups” created under the leadership of former US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, who was tasked with the mission of remaking the aging and in many cases woefully outdated digital infrastructure underneath the government. The big idea behind 18F is to leverage world-class designers, developers, and product specialists from the tech industry to do projects with government agencies and show them how to work like lean startups.

18F is a digital consultancy that both builds and implements tools and services for government agencies. They consult with agencies to help them define technology projects and select the best contractors to do the work, such as the Agile Delivery Services BPA, a blanket purchase agreement to help agencies find higher-quality professional services, or 18F Consulting, which provides design thinking and technical acumen on a short-term basis to help agencies acquire better software.

Read the full post at TechBeacon.

Elaine Chen is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

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