The StartUp Agency - A Case Study on the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau (CFPB)

This afternoon, GovLoop and WordPress are hosting an event, Do More With What You Have: Experience WordPress in Government, highlighting the power of WordPress to modernize and optimize government websites. The event included numerous case studies of WordPress websites and the robust scalable CMS services of the websites. At the event, government employees were connected with other successful WordPress users, developers and implementers to share best practices for smarter, more efficient and dynamic government websites.

The last session of the day was a presentation from Dan Munz, David Kennedy and Greg Boone discussing how the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau (CFPB) was born and the related challenges they faced. CFPB has also leveraged WordPress to become their CMS backbone.

The CFBP website states: “We work to give consumers the information they need to understand the terms of their agreements with financial companies. We are working to make regulations and guidance as clear and streamlined as possible so providers of consumer financial products and services can follow the rules on their own.”

Dan Munz articulated how the Department was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). In January of 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Rich Cordray to be the first Director of the CFPB. Congress established the CFPB to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer protection laws. Additionally, the CFPB website states part of their responsibilities:

  • Write rules, supervise companies, and enforce federal consumer financial protection laws
  • Restrict unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices
  • Take consumer complaints
  • Promote financial education
  • Research consumer behavior
  • Monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers
  • Enforce laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance

Munz also noted that Consumerfinance.gov launched in February of 2011, 5 months ahead of schedule and is the Bureaus only owned digital property. The core audience for the site is consumers and they receive approximately 900K unique page views per month. Munz also shared some lessons learned working with WordPress. Munz identified:

  • WordPress is not natively a web application framework
  • Some core capabilities are still maturing
  • Easy to do things right; even easier to do things wrong
  • Understand how security thinks about OSS

Greg Boone spoke on how the CFPB has leveraged python and created many plugins to speed up development projects. By automating many previously performed manual operations, Boone states, “It’s way faster than doing it all by hand” and “you always know what works and what does not.” Additionally, Greg listed some further benefits:

  • You know how your plugin works
  • You can spot bugs on the fully
  • Programming toward specific behaviors
  • Its way faster than do it it all by hand
  • Eventually you write better code
  • You always know if the feature works or not

Dave Kennedy was the final presenter, explaining the value of the WordPress community. Kennedy states, “We’ve talked a lot about code and technical stuff, but what matters is the people, that’s what makes WordPress awesome.” Dave also mentioned that WordPress just turned 10, and the knowledge that can be accessed by the community – and the fact that it is growing and getting better. Kennedy also shares some examples of where the CFPB goes when they have a problem, or need some code for a project, these include:

  • Automattics Github
  • WordPress.org Forums
  • Themeshaper.com
  • WordPress.org Plugin Directory
  • Blogs

The CFPB has certainly leveraged WordPress in a unique and fascinating way to meet their mission needs. What stood out to me was David’s comments on the WordPress community, and the value which it provides. David was not alone in his comments, this was a common theme throughout the day that when a code was needed or more resources, the simple solution was conduct a Google search, and more than likely, someone in the community has already solved the problem.

Here is a snapshot of other sessions at the event today:

State of WordPress in Government

Peter Slutsky, the Director of Platform Services at Automattic/WordPress.com, provided the history and present state of WordPress, WordPress.com, WordPress.com VIP and discussed the growth and momentum taking place in Government.

Uncle Sam's List

Github's Ben Balter, discussed the White House's latest WordPress-powered initiative, Uncle Sam's List.

Measuring and Expanding the Value of Community

Joseph Porcelli, the Director of Engagement Services for GovDelivery & GovLoop, discussed the importance of community and provide a few case studies as examples.

WordPress.org & Optimizing Security for your WordPress sites

Andrew Nacin, Lead Developer of WordPress.org, provided a brief overview about WordPress's security, its core software and how WordPress approaches development.

WordPress Powers the News - Publishing Inside The Washington Post

Melissa Bell, Director of Blog Engagement at The Washington Post discussed how WordPress is utilized to share the news online.

WordPress Powers sites.usa.gov

James Mathieson, of the General Servcies Administration, discussed how sites.usa.gov plays into the Digital Government Strategy and what the future holds for this innovative platform.

From Legacy to the Future - Moving Technology Mountains

Robin Sidel and Evonne Young from the Kaiser Family Foundation highlighted how they migrated from a legacy platform to WordPress, providing an overview of the challenges, opportunities and best practices from their successful transition.

Technology Challenges of Migrating Kaiser Family Foundation

Alley Interactive's Austin Smith, joins Robin & Evonne to discuss the technical challenges and complexities of migrating Kaiser Family Foundation's long-time website from an old system to WordPress.

Scaling WordPress

WordPress.org's Andrew Nacin presented some tips and ideas around scaling WordPress in the enterprise.

The StartUp Agency - A Case Study on CFPB

Dan Munz, David Kennedy and Greg Boone discuss how CFPB was born, what challenges they faced and how WordPress became their CMS backbone throughout it all.

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