Celebrating America’s Federal Workforce


Andrew Mayock: Good morning. Is this mic up and running? Everybody can hear
me in the back? Great. Welcome. Welcome, welcome. It’s my privilege to welcome
all of you to this event celebrating America’s
federal workforce. My name is Andrew Mayock,
and I am Senior Advisor at the Office of Management and
Budget where I help steward the President’s
management agenda. The President’s management
agenda is focused on modernizing the federal
government to make sure that we’re delivering better,
faster, and smarter services to citizens and
American businesses. And we’re here to celebrate
the most important part of the President’s management
agenda — the people who make up the
federal workforce. We’re here to honor those
who have dedicated their lives in service
to this country. And we’re here to hear —
we’re here also to hear about how these public
servants have done a number of extraordinary things
— saving taxpayer money, reuniting families,
improving how we buy goods and services, improving
how we hire people, and delivering better
customer service overall. Before we hear these
stories, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget,
Shaun Donovan, who has dedicated his career
to public service. Welcome, Shaun. (applause) Shaun Donovan:
Thank you, Andrew. It is great to see
all of you here today. It is a full house. I hear we have some White
House Leadership Development Program fellows
in the house. Where are you? All right, give
it up for them. (applause) We have winners of the 2016
President’s Customer Service Awards in the house. Where are you guys? Come on. (applause) We’ve got OMB, OPM, OSTP,
PPO staff who have made all of this work possible. Give it up for them. (applause) And, all the other partners
who have worked with us to make today possible,
but to make great, great contributions to public
service possible. I’m pleased that every one
of you could be here today. I’m also glad that we have
lots of people who are watching us
today by webcast. So, if you’re out there
watching, thank you for joining us. Thank you for your
public service. Now, I often say as the
budget director I spend time worrying about the
fiscal deficit. But I also spend time
worrying about the trust deficit that we have
in this country. And the truth is that w
all believe in the federal government and the mission
that we have here. But the work that we’re all
doing to make government better and stronger and
faster and more efficient is also building the faith of
the American people in their own government and in
this institution — the institutions of the federal
government that we all work for. And if we all go back — for
all of us there is a reason somewhere back in our past
that we decided to be committed to public service. I know my own story. I grew up in New York City
in the 1960s and 1970s when, frankly, we thought our
cities were falling apart. I remember as a kid walking
to school past families sleeping on the street
thinking to myself, “How is it that in the wealthiest
city in the wealthiest country on Earth we can
have kids and their parents sleeping on our streets?” And so I committed myself
to working on housing and homelessness. But I never imagined that
one day I would get to be President Obama’s HUD
Secretary and to work on issues of homelessness
all around this country. I also would never have
believed that I’d be able to stand here today and say
that under the President’s leadership — under the work
of people like Anna Leava and many, many others across
this federal government, we’ve been able to cut the
number of veteran’s sleeping on our streets or in
shelters by half since 2010. That’s we’ve been able,
since the President came into office in the middle of
the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, reduce the
number of kids and families sleeping on our streets by
two-thirds since he came into office. That makes me enormously
proud to be a public servant. (applause) And every one of you here
has your own story of what brought you to
public service. What made you think, “If I
want to change the world, I should go be a
public servant. Because that’s where I can
make the most difference for the most people.” And just thinking about what
some of the folks in this room have done to serve the
American people — just one thing this year that we
should be enormously proud of — we now have 21 million
hours that we’ve saved for American citizens by setting
up the Trusted Travelers Program. That’s making Americans
safer when they travel. We know how
important that is. But also, saving
them precious time. As the father of two boys,
that extra hour I may have to be home with my kids, the
flight I didn’t miss to be able to get home to a game
or whatever it might be — those are precious hours
for every American family. And you’ve done that. You saved 21 million
hours for our travelers. You’re making it easier for
small businesses to get started by helping
them access loans. Thirty-five thousand small
businesses have been able to access loans through the new
lending platform that you all in this room
have set up. Think about what that means
for those 35,000 folks that started a business — what
it means for their future and their kid’s future and
the communities where those businesses have been set up. Think about the 60 million
families who’ve been able to get access to their own
energy data to be able to both make their wallet a
little heavier in this holiday season. Maybe that means because of
the savings they’ve gotten that they can buy an extra
gift for under the tree or put money towards saving
for their kid’s college or whatever it might be. And at the same time, know
that they’re contributing to making the planet a little
greener, a little healthier. Folks in this room
have done that. So I’m incredibly proud of
the work you’ve done, your commitment to
public service. And I also know that the
President himself is proud of that work and
has your back. He has made it an absolute
priority that while you’re taking care of the American
citizen we’re all taking care of you. What does that mean? That means we set up a White
House leadership development program for aspiring SES
to help make sure you’re getting the training and
development that you need. And the second cohort of
that fellowship is here today. One year ago today we
released an executive order to strengthen the SES and
over the last year agencies have been speeding up
hiring, improving the application process,
strengthening onboarding, initiating talent and
success management practices — all of those things to
make sure we have the best possible talent that is in
the SES and that we grow in the SES. And finally, just last week,
the President submitted to Congress and alternative pay
plan that implements a 2.1 percent pay increase
for federal employees. (applause) Nothing says thank you
better than recognizing the work that you do. We know this has not been an
easy time with sequestration and shutdowns. And the President, in
one of his last days of administration, wanted to
make sure that he sent a message to each and every
federal employee — to everyone in this room today
— that you had his back and he’s got your back. So thank you. Thank you for your
public service. Thank you for the remarkable
work that you do each and every day on behalf
of this country. Speaking of someone who does
remarkable work on behalf of this country and someone who
cares deeply about public service and public servants
— I have had the pleasure to work closely with the
gentleman I’m about to introduce — our
remarkable Chief of Staff. Give it up for
Denis McDonough. (applause) Denis McDonough: Thanks
Shaun, very much. Thank you Andrew, our newly
confirmed Deputy Director of OMB. That’s a big — that’s
a big piece of business. (applause) Welcome to the White
House, and thanks for the opportunity to
say good morning. I just want to say one thing
before introducing some remarks from the President. And that’s to say how proud
I am to have been associated with each of you and the
mission that you carry out every day. I see it. I see it as a dad every day
in the things that my kids rely on that all
of you work on. And you know what that is. It’s everything that
Shaun just talked about. It’s also food safety,
medical safety, transportation to school. And that work is remarkable. But I also see it elsewhere
in the sit room where we can’t talk about it, in the
chief of staff’s office where, you know routinely
we’re seeing performance scores way off the charts. And that’s because of each
of you and that’s because of the huge sacrifice
that you make. And I just want you to know
what a great blessing it is to be associated with you
and your fine work and how proud I am of the terrific
work that you do to carry out the mission of working
in an office every day where we get to fly the flag. And you do the
flag great honor. You do the President very
proud in the way you carry out your work each
and every day. So a particular thanks to
our Presidential Rank Reward winners, the President
Consumer Service Award winners, and as Shaun said,
to the second class of White House Leadership
Development fellows. And to everybody here
joining this morning. And just know, please —
at least on behalf of this Chief of Staff — what a
great honor it is to be associated with you
and your fine work. So, with that I have a– the
nice honor to introduce a message to each of you
from the President. So thank you very much. Happy holidays and
congratulations. (applause) The President: Hi everybody. Before I leave office in a
few weeks, I just wanted to thank you one more time for
stepping forward to serve this country we love. I want you to know how much
I admire the work that you do day in and day out and
how deeply I appreciate your passion for public service,
your professionalism, and the career path each
of you has chosen. The American people have
high expectations of their government. Trust me, I know. Your jobs aren’t easy —
believe me, I know that too. I see you perform
them with skill. But as I know you’ve
experienced, the reward is in the opportunity to
help your fellow citizen. So many of the vital
services that the American people depend on cross
your desk every day. Your work is essential to
our national security and to family’s economic security. You are the folks who help
strangers after a storm or in the face of tragedy. You guard our borders and
protect our civil rights. You keep our food and our
workplaces safe and protect the air we breathe and
the water we drink. You help businesses expand
and enter new markets. You push the boundaries of
science and space and guide hundreds of thousands of
people each day through the glory of America’s
natural wonders. You promote diplomacy and
development and defend our homeland from threats
foreign and domestic. And over these past eight
years, you have hauled our government to a place where
it is smarter and faster and more responsive to the needs
of the American people in the 21st Century. So, whatever or whoever
inspired you to join public service — whether you’re a
young person who just signed up because you wanted to
make a difference, or a career employee who has
dedicated your life to that pursuit — I want you to
know that it has been my privilege to call
you my colleagues. This precious experiment in
self government only works when we have selfless
citizens like you. And it’s when our politics
feels most divisive that we’re the most in need
of people like you. It’s times like now when we
need people who show the rest of the country what it
means when we say we are all Americans first. By choosing public service,
you carry on a proud tradition at the heart of
some of this country’s greatest and most
lasting achievements. SO keep doing it. Your good work has never
been more important. Public service has always
been a noble calling and it will always be
a noble calling. I’ll always be grateful for
what we’ve accomplished together and as a citizen
who will continue to rely on the enormous differences you
make I’m excited to see what all of you do next. On behalf of Michelle and
myself, thank you again for working so hard every single
day in service of this country that we
love so much. (applause) Andrew Mayock: Thank you
Shaun, and thank you Denis. Thanks to the President
of the United States for joining us today. And now we have that
opportunity to hear directly from people who have taken
up that noble call, people who are showing every day
that we are all Americans first. So, I’m pleased to welcome
to the stage the following folks — Ann Marie Olivia,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs from the
Department of Housing and Urban Development with 15
years of federal service. Welcome. (applause) Traci Walker who
is also here. Traci is the Director of
Digital Services Procurement at the U.S. Digital Service also with 15
years of federal service. Welcome, Tracy. (applause) And lastly, Kyle Hair,
Director of Lean Management at the Food and Drug
Administration. Welcome Kyle. (applause) With that, I’m going to
turn it over to you Ann. Ann Marie Olivia: Thank you
and good morning everybody. It’s a pleasure to be here. Again, my name
is Ann Olivia. I am the — thank you —
I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs
at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Which means that I
have oversight of the department’s portfolio
on homelessness under my purview. And I’m particularly proud
to be here today to talk with you all because I think
not only is this a perfect topic to point to when we’re
celebrating our federal workforce, but it’s a
testament to the power of public policy and the impact
it can have on people’s lives. So I’m here today to tell
you the story of our work on ending homelessness among
veterans in the United States. And I think the most
important place for us to start is with the fact that
this initiative included both top down and
bottom up components. On the operational side,
it was driven by a team of career staff in headquarters
as well as in the field. And that staff was
dedicated to developing and implementing policy and
programs that are geared towards ending homelessness
among veterans. We were able to make the
kind of progress that Shaun sort of stole my thunder on. But I won’t take
it personally. (laughter) We were able to make that
kind of progress in part due to the focus of our leaders
and the ability to count on our leadership when we,
the staff, got stuck. And at the end of the day we
all knew exactly what our goal was and each of our
roles in achieving that goal. So, let’s take a quick
moment to look at the problem that we were
actually trying to solve. In 2010, over 76,000
veterans were experiencing homelessness on a single
night across the United States. We enumerate that through
something called out point in time count. And many more veterans
experienced homelessness over the course of a year. As you can see by the chart,
we actually didn’t have enough housing to help
all of those veterans. And frankly, we actually
didn’t have a comprehensive or collaborative mechanism
to help those veterans. So when the administration
adopted the goal of ending veteran homelessness by
2015, the teams at VA, HUD, and the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness tried to figure out how we could possibly
meet that audacious goal. And we decided that the only
way that we could do it was through clear, consistent
coordination and collaboration
between agencies. And that meant overcoming
differences in agency cultures, deciding on what
data to use, what metrics were important to us, and
most importantly, that meant that each agency would be
giving up just a little bit of its own autonomy to
benefit veterans who were experiencing homelessness
across this country. Because we knew that none of
us could get there alone. Our agency leaders were
willing to back us up. To not just back us up, but
to walk the walk literally. It showed commitment on part
of the agencies from the top of our agencies
and from the staff. And we, the staff, didn’t
sugarcoat the problem or tell our leadership
only the good news. We aired it all in front of
our leaders, and our leaders appreciated both our
honesty and our hard work. So, I’m sure you’re asking
yourself what does this sort of mean operationally. And what it means is that
the staff got together and created the notion of a
virtual single agency. We called ourselves Solving
Veteran Homelessness as One. And at the simplest of
terms, it means that on the issue of veteran
homelessness, HUD, VA, and the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness work as a single unit in making
program and policy decisions. We created a charter and
a formal structure that includes a core group of
decision makers including myself, who are supported by
a talented team of subject matter experts that work
on day-to-day operations. Our teams in the field
— which number in the thousands — execute the
vision by working with veterans every day to get
them into housing and then we meet monthly with an
agenda that’s set by the support team so we can
tackle critical barriers, review a monthly dashboard
of key metrics, and problem solve together. Every other quarter we meet
with our leaderships so they can hold us accountable for
what — for the work that we’re doing. And obviously, this has
evolved and been refined over time. We don’t always agree, we
don’t always get along, but we have a structure that
we’re all bought into to work through all of these
problems and issues constructively and quickly. And in looking back, I think
that our success can be attributed to some really
— to some key factors. And the first is
that we’re clear. The staff is clear on the
mission and all of our activity is oriented
towards that mission. We agree on a common
benchmarks and common data sets. We understand the need in
the field and our capacity to meet that need. We’ve created mechanisms
for communication and decision-making, we hold
each other accountable and talk to each
other every day. And the most important piece
of this is that we are always looking for ways to
improve and to execute on those ways to improve. Because this is the reason
— right here — what we’re doing is so important. We see it at the staff level
and our leadership makes sure that they
see it as well. So, in January 2016, on a
single night in January — on a single night — I’m
happy to report that we saw a decrease in homelessness
among veterans of nearly half since 2010. That included a decrease
of over 56 percent in the number of veterans who were
sleeping on our streets. And to date, more than 35
cities in three states have declared an effective end
to veteran homelessness. So — (applause) So really these are the
reasons that we’re all here today. Because without the
dedication, passion, and ingenuity of our federal
workforce we wouldn’t have made this progress and we
wouldn’t have the confidence — I wouldn’t have the
confidence to stand here in front of all of you today
and say that we will see an end to veteran
homelessness soon. So thank you for your time. (applause) Traci Walker: Good morning. Multiple Speakers:
Good morning. Traci Walker: So we all
know that the government struggles with delivering
digital solutions to our citizens. With the launch of
Healthcare.gov initially we had a problem with not only
the technology, but in also the way that it was
contracted for. We focused on service,
contracts with compliance instead of working
software solutions. So the U.S Digital Service
was created in 2014 to help the government with not only
the way that we build, but also the way that we
buy digital services. Now the federal Acquisition
regulations and the community around this
struggles with the fact that contracting is hard. We have to leverage
taxpayers’ dollars and make sure we’re a good
steward with them. We have to uphold
competition. We have to make sure we’re
looking at socioeconomic categories and making sure
that we also help agencies with their missions and
being able to deliver on that. We also rely on
traditionally software development methods called
waterfall, which really is characterized by up front
requirements, which go through a process
of delivery. The problem with defining
all of your requirements up front is that technology
changes quickly. And so in order to change
the contracts it usually involved extending the
schedules, extending the cost of this — and so all
of a sudden we’re delivering in years instead of months But the good news is the
government is changing and we’re adopting industry
models and methods such as agile software development,
lean UX, human centered design — and this will make
it easier for us to get the hands — into the hands of
our end users solutions that make sense for them. And if they work, great. We can keep going
and scaling that. And if they don’t then we
can pivot quickly without a lot of sunk costs. But in order to change
not only the technology solutions we also have to
relook at the way that we do the contracts for this. If we try to put an agile
software development system into a structured and
compliance based contract it’s going to fail. And so, the TechFAR handbook
was released alongside with the digital service playbook
in order to demonstrate the flexibilities that already
exist within the federal acquisition regulation space
that is saying, “Go ahead and innovate and go ahead
and adopt commercial practices and industry
practices while still maintaining the rules
and regulations.” These are some of the
strategies that we’re applying within the TechFAR
handbook as well at the U.S. Digital Service in order
to make these acquisitions better. We really want to focus on
modular contracting and paying for working products. We want to make sure t hat
we’re not driving industry participants who want to
come and work for the government away with the
fact that we have long acquisition lead-times
and costly solicitation processes. And we also know that you
can design the perfect contract, but it won’t be
successful unless you have people that know how to both
negotiate it and know how to implement it back
in the agencies. So, I started my federal
career in Kansas City, Missouri and so I’m a
show me kind of girl. And so — in our acquisition
community, it’s very important for us to not only
hear what people are telling us to do, but to actually
know how to do it. So show me how this
can actually be done. So, the digital service
procurement team is composed of contracting officers,
contracting officer representatives, and
industry specialists who’ve actually been developing,
and designing digital service acquisitions in this
space over the last five years. And we’ve been successful
most of the time. We’ve made some mistakes,
and we have a body of knowledge that we want to
share with the rest of the federal government in order
to help you all adopt these strategies faster. With the launch of the
Acquisition Gateway — GSA’s knowledge portal for the
acquisition community, which addresses all of federal
procurement — we carved ourselves out a niche, and
we’re calling this the TechFAR hub. This is available both on
the public and the private side of the
Acquisition Gateway. And what the TechFAR hub
is really a way for us to communicate with our end
users — which is the acquisition community — how
we can do these types of procurements and also to
share the success stories in this area. It’s broken down into three
main places, which the first one is Discover IT. So this includes training
opportunities, Ann Rung’s podcast series on digital
service acquisitions as well as field guides and also
information related to events that are
going to be upcoming. The Discuss IT is a
community space for us to have the practitioners not
only interact with the community internal but also
with the federal workforce and the people that are
selling those services to us. And then Do IT — this is
the really exciting part. This is where we’re actually
building tool such as the solicitation builder, which
translate the digital service playbook into a
statement of objective. Or an IGCE calculator so you
understand how to buy agile teams instead of just
individual labor categories. This also includes the
samples and the templates that I know every single
contracting officer I’ve ever engaged with — their
first question is, “Can I get a sample?” Yes you can, and
here they are. (laughter) So the case studies that
we’re trying to put up there relate similarly to one of
the case studies we did with SBA.gov when we did a
USDS discovery sprint. Right after we finished
that and gave them recommendations, they wanted
to implement that in a contract. And so we were able to work
with them to compete an acquisition on — basically
in three and a half months — and after the kick
off in July, they had an environment ready with —
it was based on cloud, open source software which is
something new to the agency. And they delivered something
in nine months after deciding that they actually
needed to conduct and put this out. And so that was the Am I
Eligible tool, which tells women who own small
businesses whether or not they’re able to get a
certification within the government. They’ve since been iterating
and now they’re being successful. So, we need your
success stories. We need you to help
contribute to this and help us with this federal
adoption of digital service acquisitions. Thank you very much. (applause) Kyle Hair: Good morning. Multiple Speakers:
Good morning. Kyle Hair: What an
honor it is to be here. I feel compelled to share
with you that I’m a second generation career civil
servant so any opportunity that I have to honor federal
excellence in public service is just an — indeed
an honor for me. So, congratulations to all
the awardees and thank you for having me. Again, my name is Kyle Hair
and I’m the director of an in house process improvement
and consulting team called Cedar Lean. At the food and drug
administration’s center for drug evaluation
and research. Our mission at the FDA
in Cedar is simple. Using the best possible
science available towards our regulatory activities. And our mission
is far reaching. Over 25 cents of every
dollar spent in the U.S. is spent on an FDA
regulated product. And sometimes, when a
patient takes a medicine, those drugs can cause
an adverse reaction. And when that happens
we get a phone call. The FDA gets notified. And when the FDA gets enough
data we need to deliberate what to do —
just what to do. So, as we know, every drug
has both its risks and its benefits. So this deliberation
can take some time. Meanwhile, many people
continue taking drugs or continue taking that product
and can have adverse events happen to them. So, sometimes the FDA is
referred to as a black box. And that’s because we don’t
have transparency into how our process works or when we
go through a process or the timing with the deliberation
for these adverse events. So, our mission in this
project was very clear. The sooner that we could let
the public know what we were thinking then the fewer
people that will be harmed. That was our goal. So, the Drug Safety
Communication — or DSC — is our formal communication
mechanism within the FDA to let patients and healthcare
providers know the potential adverse events that can
happen with these drugs. And these DSCs are actually
published on our website, so we know that those reach
over millions of users. So the sooner that we can
get those drugs safety communications onto our
website and cleared then we can translate that into
fewer adverse events for patients. So, in this project, what do
you get when you have over 25 organizations and five
levels of bureaucratic review? You have an over nine month
long process that it takes for a drug safety
communication to be issued to the public,. That was just
simply too long. So, in this project, we used
the lean process improvement design approach of
continuous improvement. And it has four phases —
plan, do, check, and act. So, in the first step, many
of our projects and our project team members would
say something like this — “Well, in our organization
we do this process this way.” And normally somebody on the
other side of the room would say, “That’s interesting. In our organization we
thought you did it this way and we do it that way in
our organization as well.” So, that simple dialog with
people focusing on the process and not on each
other was really the first step in gaining
towards efficiencies. And once that entire process
was well documented the real work of finding and
eliminating those inefficient could begin. So, the team had four
targeted solutions within this project. The first being the message
variability and quality of Drug Safety Communications. Second, being the number of
review cycles or the cycles with which those
communications were cleared. Third, the total process
time or lead-time — end to end time that it
took to clear those. And lastly, duplication
of effort or any inefficiencies. So, there was a nine-month
long pilot and the team realized several things. First being that one of the
suggested solutions was simply not being used by the
subject matter experts or the people who
actualy do the work. The second thing was that we
found that there were simple inefficiencies and
redundancies and duplications of effort that
could be eliminated right away. SO those were quick
ones for the team. So, what do you get when you
have an over nine month long process and you have a
process improvement team where you have subject
matter experts and senior leadership involved? You get a two-month
reduction and a reduction in the total lead-time that it
takes to have a drug safety communication issued
to the public. That’s an over 75 percent
improvement and a direct benefit to the patients
in the United States. But the indirect benefit
was even more reaching. Increase collaboration,
increase communication and awareness and a cohort of
process improvement experts that could come and lead
this process going forward. So, what did we learn? Several things. The first — communication
at all levels. Having that crosstalk and
that dialog between senior leadership and subject
matter experts. Strong change advocates
across organizations as well, an empowered staff,
people feeling that their voice would be heard, and
real-time collection of metrics so that we could
tell whether our project was successful or not. And of course, none of this
would have been possible without the key stakeholders
and the senior leadership involved. Thank you. (applause) Andrew Mayock: Thank you,
Ann, Traci, and Kyle. Kyle, I think I might be
following up with you on presentation prep. Some very cool slides there. (laughter) And very compelling. And in addition to these
three that have answered that noble call — I want to
introduce our next partner who answered our noble call
from California and Silicon Valley to come join
the President and his administration. Megan Smith, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer,
and Assistant toe the President in the Office
of Science and Technology Policy. Megan is going to share with
us the very interesting concept of legal theft
within the federal government — the
stealing of ideas. And five more people who are
having impact across the federal government. Welcome Megan. (applause) Megan Smith: Hi everybody. So we’re going to do
rapid-fire spark talks and we’re going to show some
amazing things that people have been doing — these
guys have been doing. And we could have taken any
one in this room and put you up here. Like it is extraordinary to
have read some of the things that you all are doing. And the thing that’s true
— one of the things that’s hard in government is that
we’re so big that we often talk about what we’re doing
and this policy and stuff — not as much who. But if you really think
about venture capitalists, when they’re going to,
you know, fuel our best companies, our best ideas,
they’re looking for what idea do you have
an who’s the team? So you don’t — you know —
Twitter and what’s the team? That kind of thing. So it’s really helpful, I
think, to sometimes see our colleagues, what they’re up
to, and connect with them and think about the kind of
collaboration you were just talking about
that we can have. Also, one of my favorite
inventions is actually the Pony Express. And that’s a funny thing,
but it’s sop cool and innovative that people just
figured out how to get this done. Do you know how
long it lasted? Anybody? (inaudible commentary) Eighteen months. And then it was
disrupted, right? So this country has an
extraordinary skill at upgrading ourselves
constantly. And if you even go — like
we’re standing in the building today together in
this building that marks the beginning of the American
century and the Industrial Age, right? So 1871 was the beginning
of this building. And so at each moment we,
the Americans — in our American experiment the
President was talking about — step up. And so whether it’s the
founding fathers and the beginning and the fact that
President Washington started the Army Corps of Engineers
before the country was founded, or whether it was
FDR innovating the fireside chat to connect better with
our community of all the Americans. Or whether it’s President
Kennedy who figured out how to really do all hands on
deck — everybody in, let’s go. You know, Sputnik — started
teaching science and tech everywhere and really
getting all Americans into the game, which
led us to Apollo. I got to see the hidden
figures movie this weekend, which is extraordinary which
includes some of the stories that were untold. So we have this history. And so, without further ado,
we’re going to start off. First off, no one better t
serve than our veterans. Mary Ann Brody? (applause) Mary Ann Brody: Good
morning everybody. I am happy to be here. I’m Mary Ann Brody and I’m
going to talk to you about Vets.gov. So the first thing that I
want you to do is imagine Dominic. Dominic is a real person. He is a 35-year-old veteran
of the United States Army. At the time this picture was
taken, he was working at a discount retail store to
pay the rent on his new apartment and to
support his children. He hadn’t seen a doctor
since 2008 and if you asked him if he’d apply for
healthcare at the VA he would have said, “Yeah, I’ve
applied,” dozens of times. This isn’t unusual. A lot of people try to
access services from the government and sometimes
they struggle because it can be really hard. Users who are trying to
access services from the VA have to muddle through over
1,000 websites, close to 1,000-phone number and even
sometimes still they can’t find what they need. In the case of the
healthcare application, on a good day when Dominic was
able to get where he needed to go when he clicked on the
Healthcare application form he would get this message —
that he needed to update his PDF reader. So, imagine empowering small
team of technologists to build better government
services using modern development practices. Imagine that they worked
along side veterans and alongside career civil
servants at the agency. Enter Vets.gov. Vets.gov is a single
platform that enables veterans to discover, apply
for, track, and manage the benefits that
they have earned. Today, on Vets.gov a veteran
can apply for healthcare, refill their prescription,
send their doctor a secure message, check the status of
their disability claim, and search for a VA facility all
using one single, secure login. Our team has spent countless
hours over the past year talking to veterans of all
abilities and backgrounds to learn about them and
incorporate their feedback to make the site as
easy to use as possible. In addition, we have spent
just as much time with our partners at the VA to
understand the plumbing that goes into the systems
that we are working with. So, imagine designing with
users not for them and what could happen when user needs
and not the limitations of government structures and
silos can create informed decisions in technical
and design work. Thank you. (applause) Megan Smith: Awesome. You know, we get so many
letters into the White House from folks and one of the
creative ideas was the White House correspondence team
was part of your group because they
helped find him. So, you know, it takes a
whole group of us to do this work. The President was at South
by Southwest and he said to that group, “I need you to
come serve in the government and I want you to team up
with my incredible team who knows these topics,
knows how to do this. And together, we’re going to
solve the harder problems.” He kind of teased a little
bit about love all the restaurant delivery apps but
we need some help over here. (laughter) And the thing that’s been
interesting about coming is I feel like some of my
skills are like pumping up the tires on extraordinary
things that you guys all know. And it’s when we get really
cross functional like we do when we’re at war and other
times — can we do that at peace time against all
of our hardest problems. So, one of the things that I
know, Beth is in the room. You know hiring is something
that you have really worked on innovating on and so
next up Angie Bailey and an extraordinary result that
happened on behalf of cyber. Go. (applause) Angie Bailey: Hello. Good morning. So I’ll start out just like
every federal agency DHS had an issue. We had tons of vacant
positions within our cyber and our technology
workforce. And then you couple with
that all of the myths that go around hiring. It’s too hard to hire,
you can’t make on the job offers, you can’t — nobody
actually even wants to work for the federal government
and especially millennials. So we decided to take all
of that and debunk most of those myths. We pulled together as
one agency every single component came together
under one umbrella and what we decided to do was
announce those job announcements across all of
DHS rather than component by component. And as a result of that we
had over 14,000 people apply to our jobs online. Over 2,000 people walked in
the door to help us fill 350 cyber and tech jobs. As a result of that, we
pooled together 400 DHS volunteers from across
every single component. We bought in every cool
toy that DHS has to offer including the
President’s limo. And we even managed to get a
Coast Guard cutter not only across Washington, D.C., but
into a hotel and did not damage one chandelier. (laughter) And as a result of that we
pooled together every HR specialist and every cyber
technology person that we had and we sat them side
by side just like this. As the people walked in and
the applications came in we qualified them on the spot. We rant hem down to a hiring
manager who took them into an interview room. We interviewed over
850 people that day. We made 200 on the spot job
— on the spot job offers that particular day. And we weren’t done then. We know that most people
leave and actually don’t go through the security process
so we fingerprinted them and put them into the
security process. (applause) As a result of that — thank
you — and as a result of that we kind of call it the
gift that keeps on giving. We’re up to 430-plus
job offers already. Over half of those folks
have already reported to work. Sixty of them came on the
job within six weeks and these are with
TSSCI clearances. So the bottom line is that
when you believe that you can’t do something all you
really have to do is just sit down, come together,
and you actually can get it done. Thank you. (applause) Megan Smith: Next up, John
is going to be at the podium. There’s a great idea called
community of practice. It’s just simple
peer-to-peer learning. And so we’ve formed all
kinds of community of practice. Sometimes we call them
interagency, but there’s ways to accelerate them
— having lists servs and having all different ways of
connecting more rapidly and sharing content. And one of the things we
have is we have a CTO team community of practice. And so I got to know
John through that. And what I love — just like
you guys I’m sure experience — when you’re together with
the people who have similar jobs to you across the
government, somebody’s doing something that
you need, right? It’s always true. And so if we can figure out
how to really scale our communities of practice of
like stealing ideas from each other in our same roles
and then seeing the crosscut stuff that we could do
anywhere we would really accelerate ourselves. And one of my favorite ones
is of course, the greatest asset of the federal
government is our talent. And so John had a wonderful
innovation for how to bring more of our talent
into the digital age. So — go. (music playing) John Morenz: At the Social
Security Administration, we believed in securing
today and tomorrow. We have been taking plays
out of the digital playbook and focusing on
IT modernization. We have been focused
on code, data, and infrastructure
modernization. We have also been focused on
human capital modernization and decided to run an
experiment where we went 100 employees to an immersive
software engineering boot camp. Sixty of these employees
were entry-level new hires and 40 were experienced
developers. The 60 entry-level employees
were sent to a 12-week boot camp. This is a short story about
the experience of those 60 entry-level employees. At first, they
were confused. Some of them wondered what
they got themselves into. Others thought they would
never be programmers. Then there was information
overload, like drinking through a fire hose. Frustration set in. many of them thought things
were moving too fast. There was no way
they could keep up. By week six they
were exhausted. Many of them didn’t
know what day it was. Then things started
to make sense. The pieces started
to come together. Then it was time to team up
and apply what they learned and develop a project
in just two weeks. Then it was time to demo the
project to SSA leadership. Despite all the challenges
the teams had to overcome utilizing open source
solutions and harvesting the API economy, these teams
created an amazing set of applications. They truly blew us away. One team created a ride
sharing application utilizing Google Maps APIs. Another team created a
slack-like application that was truly impressive
and fully functional. Another team created
an application using weather.com APIs that would
play a song based on your mood and the local
weather conditions. And there were
several others. These teams are now back
at SSA applying the modern software engineering skills
that they learned at boot camp and creating amazing
applications for us and the American public. Human capital modernization
is one way we are securing today and tomorrow at the Social Security Administration. Thank you. (applause) Megan Smith: I love
what John has achieved. And the thing that I know
also is that you not only took the technical folks and
you had different forms. I know you had a 12-week for
the folks who were new hires but also a four-week for
upgrading your current team. And then you also, I know,
had analysts and the managers in so it was sort
of respecting everybody and how a team works and getting
everyone this fluency. And I’ll tell you —
upstairs on the fourth floor there’s actually a code boot
camp going on — a one day burst class that my
colleague Alex McGilvery is teaching who came
to government. He used to be the general
counselor of Twitter. He’s a coder/lawyer. So we can do this if
we just do it, right? So that’s the way that —
that’s what we’re thinking about. The other thing is Avi
Bender couldn’t be here, but he was one of the leaders
at Census and created a physical lab space
with the Census team. It’s right next
to the cafeteria. And so one of the things
that’s an interesting thing to think about is status
quo as a policy decision. And so if you don’t do
something you’re actually making a decision. And so what is cool about
what Avi figured out is it’s sometimes hard to start. But what he did was they
created this space with the administrator — next to
the cafeteria where it was really welcoming — and
anyone could walk in and have their idea and start to
think of sprints and how to debug. How might I do that
or that or that? Or I have this problem. They had 400 projects go
through so just brilliant, brilliant work. And we’re working right now
— we’re going to have the State Department library,
the original State Department in this building. Our librarians are going to
make it a little — a louder librarian space so that we
can have an innovation space here in EOP. And I hope all of you are
thinking about where is our space that’s the community
innovation space? And that helps us upgrade
our talent and get them in the flow both through really
rapid cool training which is very similar to the
president’s tech hire initiative now
has 70 cities. INR just came into D.C. and
they’re working with you guys, as well as physical
spaces in flow and then the collaboration tools that we
need to make it move really quickly.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *