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Beeck Center Launches State Software Collaborative

The group, which is housed at Georgetown University, launched the effort as part of a partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, and the goal is to help states gain more control over the software they rely upon.

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The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation has launched the State Software Collaborative, which is an effort to better connect state agencies around shared software needs.

The Beeck Center, housed at Georgetown University, announced the collaborative this week in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation.

In an announcement for the work, organizers noted an extreme need for states to do better with their use of software, writing “only 13 percent of major government software projects succeed, and the successful and failed ones alike cost 5-10 times more than they should.” The aim of the collaborative is to help ensure that multiple states don’t buy different versions of similar software, instead working together to “procure high-quality, fair-priced software just once, and share it amongst themselves.”

At the same time, the announcement noted that states often have vastly different needs, a reality owed to differing localized policies, norms and tech environments. With that in mind, the goal behind the collaborative is to create software that is roughly 80 percent complete, leaving the extra space for customization in ways that serve individual states. Part of the collaborative’s plan is to also coach states through work needed to finish that remaining 20 percent. 

“State governments have the subject-matter expertise, the funding, the technical knowledge, and the digital infrastructure that is necessary to deliver high-quality, technology-intermediated services to the public,” organizers wrote in a statement. “They just need a little help bringing together that expertise from across states and establishing the processes and governance structure to execute on that promise, and that’s where the State Software Collaborative comes in.”

The leaders for this project are Beeck Center fellows Robin Carnahan and Waldo Jaquith. Carnahan has experience in state government, having served as Missouri’s secretary of state. In addition, both Carnahan and Jacquith have worked of late with 18F, the federal government tech consultancy housed within the General Services Administration.

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