Every (American) football fan knows that it is at least as important to know the playbook as it is to be blessed with speed, strength, and endorsement deals. After decades of failure with technology projects, including of course the high-profile debacle that was the initial rollout of HealthCare.gov, the United States government has taken steps to solve the problem. One of them was to create its own U.S. Digital Service Playbook, a guide to best practices for making technology work in government.
For me, this is personal. I’ve witnessed a lot of government technology projects fail because of some combination of incompetence, politics, and procurement methods that motivated shortsighted and suboptimal decisions. As the government begins to understand how to use technology to grow more efficient and yield more value to taxpayers, I want to play a role in that process. I’ve already written about the misunderstandings surrounding HealthCare.gov as well as a tactical overview of the Playbook for Government Computing News. This is a subject that has been important to me for a long time.
It turns out I am not the only one.
Frank McNally is the Director of Learning & Content Development at Public Spend Forum and a federal acquisition expert who has also given a great deal of thought to improving digital service delivery in government. Frank and I both feel that the root of the problem is in traditional federal procurement strategies. His vast expertise in federal acquisition theory and practice and mine in technology and software engineering best practices complement each other nicely.
Frank is putting together a Public Spend Forum video series for government acquisition professionals on the Digital Service Playbook. He was kind enough to ask me to sit in as a guest to provide technical commentary that will hopefully ground their understanding in the concepts and nomenclature of digital services and agile software development.
Here is the first video in the series.
I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know your thoughts on the topic—even, perhaps especially, if you disagree with our comments—and where we can improve.
Fixing the way the government procures digital services and runs technology projects is a big job. Let’s do it together.