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Can 18F’s Experimental Tech Procurement Make Its Way to State and Local Government?

The federal agency wants to work quicker and more iteratively.

Hillary Hartley
Hillary Hartley, deputy executive director of 18F
Ben Miller/Government Tech
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.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.