If government is truly to start serving constituents the way sleek, modern tech companies serve customers online, perhaps the place to start is with rethinking procurement.
18F, a federal digital consultancy within the U.S. General Services Administration, has been tinkering with a few possible ways of doing exactly that. At Government Technology’s State of GovTech event held in San Francisco in October, 18F Deputy Executive Director Hillary Hartley introduced two experiments her agency has been working on: agile blanket purchase agreements and micro-purchasing. Both involve short-time-frame, iterative approaches to delivering tech services to government, contrasted with long-term, high-price contracts. Both emphasize the ability of government to react quickly to the needs of both its employees and the constituents they serve.
And 18F isn’t stopping at the federal government with those concepts either. In our interview with Hartley, she talked about how the agency is beginning to work with state and even some foreign governments to try those experiments at different levels of public service.