California levels up on digital, seeks director for new innovation office

Code California

California is officially for looking for its first director of the newly-established Office of Digital Innovation.

Individuals who aspire to lead the office can complete the interest form on the California Government Operations Agency website.

From the job description:

The Director of ODI will build a world-class team, create the culture, build the institution, and deliver real results. The Director will also become the de facto community leader and convener of innovators across the state. This is a tremendous opportunity to build a movement, and develop capabilities statewide. The Director will also provide advice and guidance to senior government officials grounded in deep experience and an understanding of what works.

In January, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed the new innovation office as part of the state’s 2019-20 budget.

The office will reside under GovOps and “have the authority to develop and enforce requirements for departments to assess their service delivery models and underlying business processes from an end-user perspective.”

This line in the job description — placed at the end — stands out as a red flag and will cause potential external candidates or folks with little government experience from applying: “Bureaucracy-savvy. You know what it means to work in a large bureaucracy, and understand how to deliver in one.”

I’m not sure the value of requiring or communicating this, even if it looks like an afterthought, but perhaps the message is that the state does just want that experience for this first-time role. It should be noted that both the U.S. Digital Service and United Kingdom Government Digital Service were first led by outsiders who had no previous government experience.

Having said that, this is a civic technologist’s dream job, especially if you’re a Golden State resident who wants to have a major impact on how your state governments serves your fellow Californians.

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About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at


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