“I don’t really have a game plan; my philosophy is, I work really hard and I have a pretty positive attitude. I’ve never said no to anything anyone has asked me to do. It’s pretty basic stuff. There’s no secret sauce.”
With 15 years’ IT experience, Jill Vaughan knows a thing or two about security. In her current role, she ensures mission-critical information technology products and services are provided to more than 60,000 TSA employees. But the project she remembers as most impactful involves internal work. Taking a page from the private sector’s playbook, Vaughan worked with the Office of Public Affairs to involve employees in cybersecurity awareness training to meet FISMA requirements. It was an opportunity to turn a mandate into “something fun,” she said. The team transformed a 1,000-page awareness training into a viral video Vaughan calls “pretty game changing. Vaughan considers relationship building within the agency and with customers, as well as having a handle on business, as key factors to a successful career.
“It’s important to consciously surround yourself with leaders who know their job; I surround myself with people who are really focused and have vision. And people who are willing to work hard to reach that vision.”
In her nearly 10 years at GPO, Davita Vance-Cooks has witnessed first-hand how the agency’s role has transformed. The concept of printing is undergoing a metamorphosis, Vance-Cooks said, and it’s her job to lead the agency aligned with that change. One of her biggest projects at GPO is the Federal Digital System, which provides free online access to official publications from the trio of federal branches. It houses a total of 900,000 titles — 40,000 downloaded each month. Vance-Cooks’ biggest project in the upcoming year will be the next generation of FDSys and improving the system’s usability by using feedback from the public. She has been heavily involved in the open data task force, and is working with members of Congress to get legislative data released in bulk format to make available to the public. Prior to coming to GPO in 2004, Vance-Cooks spent 25 years in the private sector, working for a number of dot-com companies.
“[I] haven’t begun to succeed. The project of designing more effective and legitimate government is a lifelong endeavor. I keep at it because I love the joy that comes from doing work that matters. I love my brilliant and compassionate colleagues at the GovLab. I love the insights and ideas that come from collaboration across disciplines and sectors. And, ultimately, I believe in the evolutionary project of democracy.”
In 2005, Beth Noveck designed and built Peer to Patent, the first platform to connect knowledgeable volunteers with the federal patent office to help inform how it made decisions and improve the quality of issued patents. That platform created impetus for what later became the open government initiative. But it wasn’t Noveck’s only project that combined novel technology and policy to improve how problems are addressed. In 1999, Noveck designed and ran Unchat, the first platform for real-time democratic deliberation. That work focused on combining human and machine intelligence to solve public problems and create stronger, more effective democratic institutions. In 2014, the GovLab aims to experiment with diverse strategies for using collective intelligence for governance. The way advertisers and campaign consultants use new technology to ensure the right people see ads for a product or a candidate and to “convert” those eyeballs into a sale or a donation, the GovLab is studying how similar techniques for targeting requests to participate might promote democratic engagement, Noveck said.