Summit Preview: Policy + Administration

Get a sneak peek of the events, speakers, and themes in the Policy + Administration track of Code for America Summit 2022
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Code for America Summit 2022 is happening May 17–18. This year, our speakers will lead breakout sessions in four tracks: Service Design + Delivery, Policy + Administration, Operations + Management, People Power + Community. In this preview, we’ll be focusing on Policy + Administration. This track is all about bringing policy and administrative decisions closer to their desired real-world impacts—ensuring that there isn’t a disconnect between the intention of a policy and its impact when implemented.

To find out more, we spoke with Summit content committee members Alberto Rodriguez, Senior Program Manager, Public Interest Technology at New America, and Michael Cowden, Director of Solutions Engineering at Code for America.

What is this track all about? What does policy or administration have to do with technology? 

Policy is generally defined as administrative and legislative rulemaking, and is in effect the guidance that government sets for its constituents, through both democratically elected and executively appointed means. What’s interesting here is that so much of policy goes beyond the big laws that make the news—it’s also the day-to-day decisions that determine how those big laws are acted out. For example, those laws may not specify implementation details, and oftentimes technology is used, like in the case of a public benefits application website.

So in many ways, policy and technology are two sides of the same government coin! But there’s often a disconnect between the intention of a policy and its impact when implemented. As the Criminal Justice team at Code for America puts it, “justice is getting the implementation right.” The intent of a policy doesn’t matter if, for example, there are significant participation gaps and millions of Americans can’t claim the benefits for which they are eligible due to implementational challenges that pose administrative burdens. 

What are some examples of attendees who would benefit from this track?

The beauty of this track is that it is truly for everyone, from someone with a “big P” legislative background to a software engineer who works with government agencies. Policy connects so many different elements of digital service delivery, from the ability to hire people from diverse backgrounds to tightening feedback loops that allow for more effective iteration. 

This track has been curated to show how to bring all people, both inside and outside of government, into the policy and implementation processes, and highlight how various parts of government that do not traditionally view themselves as involved in policy can be incorporated for more equitable and just outcomes. We encourage anyone whose interest this piques to check out the schedule for this track. You may be surprised! 

What does “building the path forward, together” look like in the context of this track?

“Together” here is the key point. Too often, government policies do not live up to their intent due to a key disconnect between policymakers and government delivery. How might the shift to a digital world affect the government’s ability to implement policy? Practicing human-centered policymaking means bringing user-centered, iterative, and data-driven practices to bear from the start and throughout. It means getting deep into the weeds of implementation in ways that the policy world has traditionally avoided, iterating both on policy and delivery together, with all sorts of disciplines working together iteratively. It means, above all, designing, re-designing and implementing policies putting the constituent first and foremost. 

Want to see more of the Policy + Administration track? Browse through all our session descriptions here or check out a sample of sessions in this track below:

  • Where policy meets practice: How designers and policy nerds collaborate for better outcomes
  • Community-centered and community-driven: Prioritizing equity in the City of Austin’s transportation work
  • Using human-centered design and low-code tech to inform unemployment insurance policy implementation

Hear from speakers in government, non-profits, and the private sector, like:

  • Martelle Esposito, Partnerships & Evaluation Lead, Nava PBC
  • Thomas Chan, UI Division Chief, USDOL – ETA
  • Mai-Ling Garcia, Digital Director, Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation, Johns Hopkins University Centers for Civic Impact
  • Cecilia Ramirez, Content Designer, Coforma
  • Jen Tolentino, Director, Local Practice, Results for America

Haven’t signed up for Summit yet? Tickets for Code for America Summit 2022, happening May 17–18, are still on sale. Register for Summit today!

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