Month: April 2019

Idea: Procurementeers, an open, collaborative government procurement community

Procurementeers

It’s cliche to say that government procurement needs to be fixed, but much of the conversation around this topic happens randomly on social media, in a vacuum through exclusive or elusive groups, or through traditional organizations that operate in a closed, dated mindset with respect to broader inclusion or true innovation.

There are so many smart, passionate people sincerely dedicated to changing government procurement. What’s missing in this effort is a truly open, collaborative, specialized community focused on supporting one another, facilitating ideas for improvement and delivering a knowledge base of best practices.

What’s needed is stronger leadership within the disparate government procurement community to lead on these fronts. For government officials, it can’t be about how much you know about the nuances of procurement and the endless blockers that create the innovation stopgap. For vendors, it can’t be about how your product will solve all the problems. It must be about all aspects of the ecosystem coming together to have the conversation, cultivate the community and holistically transform government procurement at scale.

To help facilitate this, here’s my idea: Procurementeers, a volunteer-based, open community of civic innovators working to modernize government procurement. I’ve set up a simple website, Slack community, handbook, Twitter account, GitHub organization and starter ideas, such as a Procurement Camp and working group, for moving this project forward.

I’m not a government procurement enthusiast, but I do see a critical need for something like Procurementeers to move this much-needed transformation forward. I do not need or want to own or manage this community. I simply want to propose a way to facilitate this, so we can change procurement at scale.

My fear is that if the government procurement community — especially those who champion themselves as leaders — don’t address this topic in an open, inclusive, collaborative way, we’ll continue to experience the fixed, reductionist and incremental mindset and momentum we’ve seen to date.

Procurementeers is my attempt to inspire those who are passionate about changing government procurement with the hopes that this helps jump start your efforts.

If you’re excited about leading government procurement transformation and would like to take over Procurementeers and run with it, email me at luke@govfresh.com.

Digital government transformation at scale

The strategy is delivery

While several books have contributed to the knowledge share of the digital government narrative, few have effectively addressed transformation holistically from firsthand experience, and Digital Transformation at Scale: Why the Strategy Is Delivery does just this.

Written by former United Kingdom Government Digital Service founders and leaders, Digital Transformation at Scale provides insights into the steps to take to create a functional, sustainable, accountable, scalable organization that is a conduit for government change. The granularity of advice, such as what to do first — first team, first 100 days, first projects — to sharing the work to ensuring failing projects are stopped to promoting savings are extremely insightful and practical.

As the authors note, digital is more than just technology:

“Digital transformation is not all about technology; it is about changing the way you work. … [It’s] about building a new type of organisation around internet-era principles, not adding technical complexity to try and fix analogue organisations. It means changing how an organisation runs itself in the background at least as much as changing what its users actually see.

“The biggest change is how you deliver. Working in empowered, multidisciplinary teams. Starting with the needs of users. Publishing your work in the open. Iteratively improving what you do. Testing new services with real people. Using tools of the open internet over expensive proprietary options. Writing clearly for a wide audience. Showing prototypes and working code as a substitute for papers and meetings. Building trust between people in your organisation, and those who it works with. Designing with data. Doing the hard work to make things simple.”

GDS had all of the ingredients for success, including a mandate and full empowerment borne from a 2010 government report, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution, particularly:

  • “Absolute control of the overall user experience across all digital channels, commissioning all government online information from other departments”
  • “CEO for Digital” with “absolute authority over the user experience across all government online services (websites and APls) and the power to direct all government online spending”

Key takeaways:

  • Start small
  • Establish political cover
  • Appoint a chief digital officer
  • Prioritize culture (agile, open, flat, together, driven)
  • “No innovation until things work.”
  • Operate under the radar (initially)
  • Establish principles principles, standards, strategy and a manual
  • Focus on shipping early versions of products that meet user needs
  • Socialize work early and often
  • Exact spending controls
  • Have a dedicated team with authority to stop bad projects
  • Show fiscal impact with performance dashboards and efficiency reports
  • Think ‘platform’

In 2013, GDS had 200 employees. Today, there are more than 850 managing delivery, guidance, marketplace and multiple platforms and products. It has inspired much of the digital government organization landscape, and Digital Transformation at Scale is the playbook for anyone — from elected officials to government administrators — sincerely interested in reforming how government serves the people.

Digital Transformation at Scale

Digital Transformation at Scale: Why the Strategy Is Delivery
Andrew Greenway, Ben Terrett, Mike Bracken, Tom Loosemore
232 pages
London Publishing Partnership (8 May 2018)
Purchase

Podcast idea (call for collaboration): The Government We Need

The Government We Need

Two years ago, I had an idea for a podcast that focused on the whole of government, and how big thinkers are re-imagining and changing how civil society operates along the civic spectrum.

The idea, which I named The Government We Need, has been sitting on the back burner since.

While I went so far as to create brand elements, social media accounts, project management and strategic documentation on this, I just haven’t found the time or energy to execute in a way that would do it justice.

Normally, with ideas that I prototype and don’t act on, I delete and move on, archiving them as just another experiment in learning and creative processing. For some reason, I think this one has the potential to impact the conversation around government change in a creative, interesting format.

Relevant links related to what I’ve done so far:

My intent in writing about this is to share it with the world in the hopes that others:

  • might find this project interesting and want to work with me on it or
  • take it over themselves

If you are interested in either, please feel free to contact me at thegovweneed@govfresh.com.