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18F's Hillary Hartley Becomes First Chief Digital Officer of Ontario, Canada

Ontario officials say Hartley’s role will be “to streamline online government services and make them more efficient for people and business.”

by / March 27, 2017

Hillary Hartley, one of the guiding technologists that shaped the federal government’s startup-inspired digital innovation team 18F, will become Ontario, Canada’s first chief digital officer, the province announced Monday, March 27.   

Hartley announced earlier this month that she was ending her term with the agency nearly a month ahead of schedule, making her the third senior official to depart the agency in recent times. An internal email obtained by Federal News Radio (FNR) identifies Hartley’s last day with 18F as April 7, while Ontario’s release says Hartley will begin work this month.

In the announcement, Ontario officials also say Hartley’s role will be “to streamline online government services and make them more efficient for people and business.” Other expectations include simplifying services for better usage, setting new standards for digital products and recruiting talent, all with a better customer experience in mind.

Such work is not unlike what Hartley did with 18F. She was one of the original tech disruptors brought into the General Services Administration in March 2014 amid the aftermath of the clumsy rollout of Hartley helped shape the team and its agenda, which included improving federal IT management, as well as reshaping how buying, building and sharing technology happens in government.

In Hartley’s time with 18F, the group’s accomplishments include streamlining parts of federal procurement procedures, as well as assisting state and local governments with their use of tech.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Hillary Hartley to Ontario as our Chief Digital Officer, and to have her tremendous expertise as we continue to make it easier for people to access and use the services they depend on from government,” said Deb Matthews, Ontario’s minister responsible for digital government and minister of advanced education and skills development, in a statement. “Attracting top international talent, like Hillary Hartley, demonstrates that Ontario is where the world comes to work and is a leader in the global movement to transform government services.”

While there’s nothing to directly indicate that a new presidential administration led by Donald Trump inspired Hartley’s move north, the pinned Tweet on her profile uses two phrases popular amongst those who oppose the president and his agenda.



According to the FNR report, Hartley acknowledges that turnover within 18F has been stressful, but she also said remaining leadership was working with the Trump administration to convey the group’s “long-term value.” She also struck a satisfied and wistful tone about her 18F tenure.

“This has been the best job I’ve ever had, with the best group of people I’ve ever known,” Hartley said in the email cited by the news outlet. “Four years ago, we had dreams that felt noble, but kind of impossible, and it is only because of you (and our amazing #alumni) that is now a reality.”

In March 2016, Hartley told Government Technology that 18F would likely survive the transition to a new presidency because the organization operates as a business, rather than as a typical federal agency.

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