The Future of Digital Government: The Next Big Things

April 19, 2016   Posted by: Megan Fella

Partnership and collaboration are at the cornerstone of innovation within the federal government. In support of this belief, USAGov’s Sarah Crane recently spoke at an EPA sponsored conference in Crystal City. Her presentation entitled, “The Future of Digital Government: The Next Big Things” focused on the following key topics:

Adaptive Content

Content that is structured, tagged, and managed free from presentation. Adaptive content is often made available via API for re-use. While this strategy allows for easy repurposing (for mobile, syndication, etc.) it demands another team or person to think about presentation and findability of the content.

Agile Content

Product management ideals in content development and enhancement

  • Iteration
    • Content must be fluid to match changing circumstance  
    • Reject “lorem ipsum” in favor of specific sample content in wireframes or prototypes
  • Product Management
    • From the beginning, content is at the heart of the agile process
    • Allows for faster decisions when identifying new products/services
  • People
    • Full ownership of a product/service reduces hierarchy and creates a sense of empowerment
    • Accountable for success, accountable for failure
    • “Lifecycle ownership” results in more user-centric product management


“The ease with which users can find information from outside or inside a site.” Realizing that findability is much more than just “search” has become increasingly important. With more users entering a site through a channel other than the homepage, building a team to consider taxonomy, IA, SEO, and orientation, in order to create a consistent experience, has become paramount.


A platform is a system that can be customized/adapted by outside developers and users. Facebook provides an excellent commercial example of this idea. A widely popular platform,  Facebook has seen a number of extraneous applications built on top of it from Farmville to Words with Friends. Federalist is another, government sponsored platform example. Developed to create a unified interface for publishing static government websites, Federalist offers “completely custom templates that take advantage of [a] scalable static site architecture and web-based editor.”

Online Marketplaces

A type of site where products or services are provided by multiple parties, but the transactions are processed by the marketplace operator. Commercial examples of this include Amazon and Etsy, while is a governmental equivalent that allows agencies to shop and compare cloud security providers.

On Demand Services

Demand services provide convenience and efficiency. Examples of this demand-based production model include Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart. Though certainly an increasingly popular trend, its implications on the future of digital government are not yet clear.

Civic Tech Partnerships

In today’s society, almost every major commercial tech shop has a public affairs/public policy branch. Within the government we must continue to work with and leverage these groups, and the amplifying platforms they support, in order to deliver our content to the public. is a successful example of such a partnership. After launching, Facebook’s civic engagement team facilitated a joint effort to make voters more aware of upcoming registration deadlines.

Though USAGov has not fully adopted these upcoming trends, we continue to monitor them for possible incorporation into our model.

Megan Fella is a detailee from the Emerging Leaders Program. 

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