New 18F Digital Acquisition 'Playbook' Opens Up Federal Knowledge to All Levels of Government

A living document could spread 18F's knowledge beyond just the federal government.

by / October 13, 2016
18F

For the most part, 18F is just for the federal government. But the agency is now taking steps to hand down knowledge to anybody in government in need of help buying digital equipment or services.

On Oct. 12, the digital consultancy housed within the U.S. General Services Administration released a living document it’s calling the “Digital Acquisition Accelerator Playbook.” The book — which still has a few blank sections as of this story’s writing — is a step-by-step guide for government officials to buy equipment and services based on best practices developed at the federal level.

The playbook emphasizes planning and measurement when it comes to digital services. After pointing readers toward some revered practices like agile development and the Lean methodology while steering them away from common pitfalls, the playbook lays out a five-step process:

  1. Ignition, or the building of a team that brings multiple perspectives and skill sets to the table.
  2. Inception, or exploration of needs — who the product will serve, what it needs to do and what the key inputs are that the team will need to put on solicitation documents, among other things.
  3. Procurement, or the search for a vendor to deliver the product.
  4. Delivery of the product.
  5. Landing, or the measurement of how the product is working and the lessons learned about it.

18F has uploaded the playbook to GitHub and is asking for feedback, promising to evolve the document over time.

“There’s a lot to learn about digital acquisitions, and more of it’s being defined as we go along,” a blog post introducing the playbook reads. “We hope that this playbook serves as a ‘where to start’ guide. We also plan to publish more tools, resources and tactics as we discover them in our day-to-day work at 18F, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program (PIF) and from the work of our agency partners across the government.”