A Moment of Change on Code for America’s Journey

Code for America’s mission is to use technology to reimagine and transform government systems to work for everyone. This has been our focus since our inception as we’ve applied the principles of human-centered government on transformational projects related to the social safety net, tax benefits, the criminal justice system, and beyond.

But the civic tech environment has changed over the last three years, and today we are sharing some difficult news as we restructure our organization to reflect this new reality. 

In 2020, the demand for accessible digital services reached unprecedented levels as governments in our country and around the world attempted to prevent untold hardship and suffering from COVID-19. The following year, Code for America received significant investments from our philanthropic partners to work shoulder-to-shoulder with government agencies to help more than 10 million people access benefits during the darkest days of the pandemic. Then, in 2022, we began to see the effect of federal emergency health initiatives coming to an end with governments and philanthropic entities shifting focus. 

Now as we look beyond 2023, we see a clearer picture of the new world ahead of us and the civic tech community. We are proud to be part of the movement that has made digital delivery the norm today. And, we are even prouder to see how the public has grown to expect fast and reliable access to digital government services, and leaders in government are moving more quickly to adapt to a changing technological landscape, exploring new tools, including artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. 

While resources for civic tech have slowed, the potential for what is possible with human-centered technology in government has never been greater. 

With nearly 15 years of experience leveraging technology tools to reach people where they are, Code for America is well-positioned to help raise the bar for human-centered delivery of government benefits. 

As stewards of public and philanthropic funds, we also recognize the need to do this as effectively and efficiently as possible. For us, this means that we need to focus on three key areas:

  • Impact: Our goals are ambitious. We have more signals on what drives impact and what doesn’t. We need to prioritize delivery work that leads to the most impact for the most number of people by investing in scalable products and services and utilizing cutting-edge technologies.
  • Structure: Our structure needs to evolve to respond to high-impact opportunities with agility.  We need to reorganize to best support sustainability and impact by strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration, rapidly prototyping solutions, and adapting more quickly when opportunities arise. 
  • Sustainability: Our revenue projections are ~20% lower for 2024. We need to refine our financial & staffing model to align with our long-term revenue strategy and vision for change. 

So, given this shifting civic tech landscape and the changes we are making to our organization, Code for America is eliminating 35 staff positions.  

The hardest part is that this shift will mean we will say goodbye to some of our colleagues who have become close friends. We are grateful for everyone at Code for America who has been part of this incredible journey to create an impactful civic tech movement that has served millions of people across the country.

Consistent with our values, Code for America will treat those impacted by this change with dignity and respect. Although we have yet to finalize our first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement, the tentative agreement on layoffs and severance helped us develop an equitable process and a meaningful severance package, including extending health care benefits.

We know the changes we’re making today, as difficult as they are, will be the catalyst for new opportunities to engage with our government partners, to reach more clients, and to help transform government systems for a new age.