If the election doesn't provide enough excitement for you this week, never fear...it's also DCWeek. "DCWEEK is a week long festival in the US capitol focused on bringing together designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and social innovators of all kinds."
Yesterday I attended the session titled: "Changing Relationships: Gov 2.0 and the Citizen" at Affinity Lab. Panelists discussed "MyGov," a government initiative meant to help individuals navigate through more than 1,200 websites.
Greg Girshman: Presidential Innovation Fellow for Project MyGov as part of the new White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program.The program pairs top innovators from the private sector, nonprofits, and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate on solutions that aim to deliver significant results in six month period.
Kara Defrias: Presidential Innovation Fellow for Project MyGov & UX Strategist
Dan Jeffers: Principal at Bolt Digital Strategies
Doug Naegele: President of Infield Health, a program that texts medical patients important updates.
The average citizen or "human" as the panel named, can encounter a lot of frustration trying to do simple things, like change-of-last-name or a driver's license renewal. In fact, the most common search on usa.gov is for license procedures...clearly people don't know where to look, or who to ask. Mygov works to re-imagine relationship between local gov and it's people. They gave examples of how government and citizen engagement is changing, like the teaming up of the White House and Johnson & Johnson with text4baby.org, which texts expecting mothers free tips and advice on pregnancy and child-rearing.
You can learn all of the Mygov deets at the mygov bit.ly site. Kerra, the UX strategist with MyGov pointed out that right now, "The onus is on the person, but the government should be there to serve you.” Others pointed out that a lot of federal agencies are doing pretty well at keeping up to date, Aids.gov and CEC both have great mobile design. Kara also mentioned that while conducting usability tests for my.usa.gov that 5 people will find 85% of the usability issues. Which means that your agency doesn't have to spend lots of time and money on time-consuming, long term analysIs of sites. Also, everything MyGov develops will also be open-source...pretty awesome.
The fellows were asked if these programs may be jeopardized in the future with the election, and though there was not a guaranteed answer, it seems hopeful that anyone who is elected in the future will see the value in programs like mygov and opendata.