Table of Contents

for A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide


Chapter 1: What is Civic Tech?

  • Government in the United States: It’s complicated
  • What does tech have to offer here? 
  • Navigating a nebulous problem space
  • Public servants as stakeholders and colleagues

Chapter 2: Reckoning with Privilege

  • Tech and the privilege of credibility
  • Undoing the tech savior complex
  • Representation and privilege in civic tech work
  • Making civic tech for everyone
  • Being an ally

Chapter 3: Ways to Contribute

  • Stepping forward: Volunteer collaborations
  • The business of government tech: Startups and other vendors
  • Going all in: Innovation labs and digital service teams
  • For the people, by the people: Citizen engagement and mutual aid
  • Making partnerships and spaces inclusive

Chapter 4: Project Types

  • Service delivery projects
  • Infrastructure & data projects
  • Specialized tools for digital government
  • Swooping in for a rescue

Chapter 5: Innovation and Its Discontents

  • Innovation is a flawed framework for change
  • Bureaucracy and stewardship
  • Perspectives on risk and failure
  • The role of prototypes
  • Digital transformation & continuous improvement

Chapter 6: Working in Regulated Spaces

  • Budgets, cycles, and procurement
  • Regulations and tooling
  • How long does all this take? 
  • Becoming part of the relay

Chapter 7: Essential Skills

  • What skills do you need to succeed in civic tech? 
  • Know your limits: Levels of competence
  • Frameworks and flexibility
  • Not-strictly-tech work in civic tech
  • If you’re starting your career

Chapter 8: Project Teams and Methods

  • Government teams and assumptions
  • Open-source teams and assumptions
  • The engineering-design-product triad
  • Leveling up partner teams
  • Filling in for product management

Chapter 9: Working With Policy

  • How policy evolves in practice
  • Policy implementation is the biggest opportunity for tech
  • How can tech methods apply?
  • Technology policy
  • Policy exceptions and change

Chapter 10: Making Long-Term Change

  • Open data 
  • Improving procurement 
  • Legacy migrations
  • Metrics & analytics
  • User-centered design
  • Bringing capabilities inside
  • Moving traditional entities forward

Chapter 11: Harmonizing Ways of Working

  • Work culture: Tech versus government
  • Your jargon, my jargon
  • Techniques of professional inclusion
  • Rigidity and hierarchy

Chapter 12: The Allies We Need

  • Executive champions & strategic alignment
  • Mid-level, socially connected partners
  • Legal & regulatory colleagues
  • Partners from outside government
  • Communications and the press

Chapter 13: Pace, Risks, & Self-Care

  • Rotations, terms, and the long term
  • Watching your pace
  • The logistics burden 
  • Financial risks & planning
  • How to recognize burnout
  • Cultivating the karass



Further Reading


About the Author