Audiobook extras

Chapter 1’s large table is below, along with a list of all the footnotes that have links. Please also see the Resources, Further Reading, and Acknowledgements/About the Author.

Chapter 1 Table of government responsibilities by level

Federal ExecutiveFederal LegislativeFederal Judiciary
The President
Cabinet agencies and independent agencies 

– Collect federal income taxes
– Oversee immigration and passports
– Fund major benefits programs; administer Social Security
– Oversee veterans’ services
– Make regulations 
– Manage national Parks
House of Representatives

– Passes laws (which supersede and constrain state laws) 
-Oversees the federal budget, including setting income and business tax rates
Supreme Court: decides appeals from other federal courts or state supreme courts

Federal district and appeals courts: deal with federal crimes, immigration, bankruptcy
State ExecutiveState LegislativeState Judiciary
State cabinet agencies

– Voter registration
– Driver and vehicle licensing
– State income taxes
– Business registration
– Professional licensing
– State Parks
– Fishing and hunting licenses
– Highway patrol
One or two-house state legislature
– Passes laws (if these contradict federal law that can generate a Supreme Court case)
– Administers state budget
– Sets state income and/or sales taxes 
State supreme court
State courts of appeals
Some states have separate lower courts for family law
County ExecutiveCounty LegislativeCounty Judiciary
County executive
– Birth, death, and marriage records
– Administration of state programs
– Election administration (mostly)
– Transit and roads
– Parks
County Council or Board of Supervisors
– County budget
– Local statutes concerning land use, property matters, and alcohol sales (for example)

Superior courts (technically part of state court systems)
Most felonies must be tried in superior court
Many family law matters and minor lawsuits are handled here
City/Town ExecutiveCity/Town LegislativeCity/Town Judiciary
Mayor, sometimes sharing power with an appointed City Manager 
– Local police
– Building permitting
– Parking and traffic
– Parks
– Schools (usually with a separate elected board)
– Libraries
City Council
– City budget
– Local ordinances
– Local property and sales taxes
Municipal courts (but not everywhere)
Misdemeanor offenses and infractions like traffic tickets

Footnotes with links, by chapter

Introduction, note 1 (p12): The Field Guides are very short guides to all aspects of election design, from ballots to signage. Center for Civic Design, Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent,

Chapter 1, note 2 (p18): Ethan Zuckerman outlined this idea in a January 2020 blog post for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. See Zuckerman, “The Case for Digital Public Infrastructure,” Knight First Amendment Institute, January 17, 2020,

Chapter 1, note 5 (p24): Paul Ford made this point definitively in 2011. See Ford, “The Web Is a Customer Service Medium,”, January 6, 2011,

Chapter 2, note 1 (p30): The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported on high tech industry demographics in 2014. See US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Diversity in High Tech,” 2014, Since then, major tech companies have begun reporting their statistics yearly. See Sara Harrison, “Five Years of Tech Diversity Reports—and Little Progress,” Wired, October 1, 2019, The stats tell a frustrating tale of exclusion.

Chapter 2, note 3 (p32): TechCrunch covered most of the story in 2019. The engineering team ended up going to Pinterest. John Constine, “Sean Parker’s Brigade/Causes Acquired by Govtech App Countable,” TechCrunch, May 1, 2019,

Chapter 2, note 5 (p34): Government service is much more diverse than the tech industry. See for example Todd Gardner, “The Racial and Ethnic Composition of Local Government Employees in Large Metro Areas: 1960–2010,” Center for Economic Studies, US Census Bureau, August 2013,

Chapter 2, note 6 (p34): According to the Pew Internet and American Life project, as of 2019, 37 percent of Americans access the internet primarily through a mobile device. See Monica Anderson, “Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019,” Pew Research Center, Internet & Tech, June 13, 2019,

Chapter 4, note 5 (p53): The Human Utility is just one example of this kind of project (

Chapter 4, note 6 (p55): Robinson Meyer detailed the story of this rescue in a compelling article. See Meyer, “The Secret Startup That Saved the Worst Website in America, ” Atlantic, July 9, 2015,

Chapter 4, note 8 (p56): Josh Gee’s account of doing this work for the city of Boston is worth a read. See Gee, “What I Learned in Two Years of Moving Government Forms Online,” Medium, February 22, 2018.

Chapter 4, note 9 (p56): In the early years of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one of the team’s major wins was redesigning the required disclosure forms for home mortgages to be more readable and to highlight critical information for borrowers. See the CFPB Mortgage Disclosure Team, “Know before You Owe: Preparing to Finalize the New Mortgage Disclosure Forms,” CFPB, November 22, 2013,

Chapter 5, note 2 (p61): Martin Fowler, “Illustrative Programming,”, June 30, 2009,

Chapter 5, note 3 (p62): Specifics of these requirements are spelled out in the ADA Tool Kit (

Chapter 5, note 4 (p63): Google’s Objectives and Key Results-based planning process is famous, but their public playbook ( doesn’t cover the rounds of negotiation necessary to reconcile goals across departments and divisions.

Chapter 5, note 5 (p64): So many postmortems of WeWork illustrate this, but some examples are more delectable than others. See Noah Kulwin, “The Extremely Bad Vibes of Adam Neumann,” Outline, September 19, 2019, (

Chapter 6, note 5 (p74): If you’re interested, the OpenControl community has solid, simplified content on federal ATOs:

Chapter 6, note 8 (p77): Gee, “What I Learned in Two Years of Moving Government Forms Online,” Medium, February 22, 2018,

Chapter 7, note 2 (p81): Sara Morrison, “Iowa’s 2016 Caucus App Worked and Everyone Forgot about It,” Recode, Vox, February 7.2020, Some compelling quotes from software developers here.

Chapter 7, note 3 (p82): On the four-stage model of competence, attributed to clinical psychologist Noel Burch (among others), see for example Linda Adams, “Learning a New Skill Is Easier Said than Done,” Gordon Training International, n.d.,

Chapter 7, note 5 (p85): United States Digital Service, “The TechFAR Handbook,”

Chapter 8, note 5 (p94): Spotify’s model enjoyed a long run of popularity, but has recently come under some heavy scrutiny. See Henrik Kniberg and Anders Ivarsson, “Scaling Agility @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds,” Crisp’s Blog, October 2012, ; and Jeremiah Lee, “Failed @SquadGoals,” April 19, 2020,

Chapter 8, note 6 (p94): SAFe was designed as an enterprise-friendly adaptation of Agile and is relatively common in government organizations (

Chapter 8, note 8 (p95): Product management isn’t as prolific in books or conferences as design or engineering, but in recent years the international Mind the Product organization has been a strong center for training and conversation (

Chapter 10, note 1 (p108): This comes from a 2010 Tim O’Reilly article in which he proposes that government should invite public participation not just in deliberative processes but in building all the ways government serves and interacts with the public. See O’Reilly, “Government as a Platform,” innovations 6, no. 1 (2010): 13–40,

Chapter 10, note 2 (p108): One of the creators of the standard wrote about its history in a 2013 Code for America book. See Bibiana McHugh, “Pioneering Open Data Standards: The GTFS Story,” in Beyond Transparency, eds. Brett Goldstein and Lauren Dyson (Code for America Press, 2013),

Chapter 10, note 5 (p110): 8(a) is a program of the Small Business Administration that limits competition for certain government contracts to small companies owned by disadvantaged Americans (