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What’s New in Civic Tech: CfA Summit Tackles Equitable Design

Plus, an internal federal government innovation program picks 22 ideas to receive phased support funding, a new data warehouse aims to consolidate California’s statewide data on homelessness, and more.

Code for America National Network Director Erie Meyer Erie Meyer speaking into a microphone in front of a projection that reads "Code for America Summit."
Code for America National Network Director Erie Meyer
(Courtesy Code for America via Facebook)
The Code for America (CfA) Summit — one of the country’s pre-eminent annual civic tech events — this year will focus on designing equitable government, the organization announced.

The two-day event is slated to happen online starting May 12, and within its broader uniting theme will be four tracks: design and delivery; civic innovation and data; operations and management; and technology and policy. Featured speakers at the event include Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and former Stockton, Calif., Mayor Michael Tubbs, among others. In a press release announcing the theme, officials noted that new leadership in Washington “has created an unprecedented opportunity to finally address systemic racism and economic injustice that’s been centuries in the making.”

The pandemic — with its outsized impact on marginalized communities — has heightened the already pressing need for the work.

Other speakers for this year’s event include Lynn Overmann of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wendy De La Rosa of The Wharton School, Terri P. Ricks of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, and Kathy Pham, founding member of the product and engineering teams at the United States Digital Service.

More information can be found on the Code for America Summit home page. (Zack Quaintance)

GSA'S 10x PROGRAM PICKS 22 PROJECTS FOR FUNDING


The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will provide phased funding to 22 innovation projects aimed at building tech in the service of the public good, agency officials announced.

This funding is part of an ongoing program called 10x, which fields innovation ideas from civic servants and vets them for investment. This year’s ideas — selected from a total of 250 submissions — “align with government-wide priorities of rebuilding public trust with the government, protecting the environment, and promoting equitable public service,” according to the announcement.

The projects seek to tackle a wide range of challenges, including government support for individuals re-entering society after incarceration; finding a centralized way to communicate civil rights to the public; helping agencies track their environmental footprints; and fostering public involvement in the earliest stages of policymaking, among others.

Founded in 2015, 10x has a track record of finding and supporting ideas that have given shape to significant federal tech and innovation work. Perhaps the most prominent idea to grow from the program was that of login.gov, an authentication service that has now also spread to some state and local governments.

The 10x program accepts ideas from government employees on a rolling basis for evaluation. This most recent slate of projects is described in more detail in 10x’s announcement. (Julia Edinger)

CALIFORNIA ADDS DATA TOOLS IN FIGHT AGAINST HOMELESSNESS


Armed with a new data warehouse, California is consolidating individual-level homelessness services data in order to sharpen its ongoing response to that crisis, the state has announced.

The data warehouse — which the state notes is its first of this kind — has enabled the creation of the Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS), which was developed by the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council in partnership with California’s 44 Continuums of Care. Officials say that this centralized resource will help the state make data-driven policy decisions, as well as take better stock of its goals and progress as they relate to the homelessness crisis.

“You can’t fix what you can’t measure and having a statewide data system will help us determine what’s working and what isn’t, important insight we can use to create accountability and strengthen our response going forward,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press release.

Specifically, the data will help answer key questions such as who is accessing services, what services are being provided and what interventions are most effective. This resource will also help officials identify patterns related to service use across geographic regions, while supporting efforts to identify inequities among people who are experiencing homelessness.

California worked with vendor Plante Moran on this project, which was produced in 15 weeks with a budget of $1.2 million. The system also has the potential to expand by integrating other data. (Julia Edinger)

PENNSYLVANIA INVESTS $1.3M IN DIGITAL LITERACY


Pennsylvania is investing $1.3 million in digital literacy programs, doing so via a series of grants of as much as $45,000 each, state officials announced.

Dubbed the Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants (DLWDG), these awards are intended to fund local-level programs that help residents of the state develop computer skills training with an eye toward employment. The idea is to help job seekers learn how to search and apply for online jobs, send resumes via email, and maintain a profile on employment networking sites.

“The Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants will help ensure that workers develop the basic digital skills they need to succeed when applying for jobs and performing essential job duties that will be required of them in their new career,”
Labor and Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in the announcement.

The programs will operate from July 2021 to September 2022. More information about the grants and recipients can be found here. (Julia Edinger)
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine