USDS head Mina Hsiang wants Big Tech’s best minds to help fix the government

The most interesting part of this interview was the host’s mental model around government services. For example he asks:

The tension there that seems really apparent to me is that if you’re the person in charge of the Social Security Administration, the way people experience it is through SSA.gov. It might be that the administrator of the Social Security Administration needs to be the product manager because they’re ultimately accountable for the success of the thing that people only experience through a website or an app or something. Is that just me inventing a tension, or is that a real tension? Do those people get that they understand that the user interface of their product is the product?

She answers the product manager question, but rightly wraps the answer up by putting a more service design lens on civic tech:

Then, taking a further step back and saying, Your product is not just your website; it’s your website, as you said, and your call center and your in-person service.” And how do we stitch those together? Because, for a variety of reasons, over time, those are all managed by completely different business units with completely different technology systems, so there’s a real need to sort of pull those together and have product mindset from the top down.

I 💚 websites. I’ve been helping teams make great ones for over 25 years. It’s a passion and how I help feed my family. But I know it’s only one part of the puzzle, especially in civic tech. I suppose that’s why service design is so interesting to me.



Date
December 19, 2023