When the Digital Government Strategy was released in May 2013, agencies were tasked with building APIs, launching mobile products, establishing digital governance and getting better customer feedback.
“the opportunity to innovate more with less, and enables entrepreneurs to better leverage government data to improve the quality of services to the American people”
— Digital Government Strategy
If agencies use each other’s services (via APIs and open data) then we can reduce redundancy and increase efficiency (streamlining when one agency collects new information or learns how to do something, increasing speed at which that is available in other agencies)
A team at GSA was chartered to support agencies in this work, with only 2 part-time employees to take on this big mission. They had the idea to engage innovators across government to contribute to this initiative that would help everyone.
Would federal employees work on tasks outside their agency in order to support each other in implementing this Digital Government strategy? To answer this question, they created the Open Opportunities program.
From the beginning, the program applied modern agile practice and human-centered design. Program Leader, Lisa Nelson, read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “Lean Analytics”, and followed advice to “get outside the building and learn.”
The initial hypothesis:
- Individuals will see the program as a great opportunity.
- They will respond in large numbers.
- Agencies will think this is a good opportunity, too.
The initial 3 year roadmap focused on guiding principles and goals.