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- By Dana Chisnell

Government is nothing if not a massive, continuous service design project. Laws design the scope and constraints of an experience. Agencies that carry out the laws create content, interactions, transactions — and they deliver it all on various channels, through hundreds of touch points.

The crazy thing is — in spite of persistent efforts by many fantastic pros in various corners of government over the last couple of decades — few people involved in creating processes and infrastructure for constituents to interact with government realize that what they’re doing is design.

In November 2013 when healthcare.gov launched and failed, and then recovered to sign up 8 million people for health insurance, we all got a lesson in the best way not to design a citizen-government interaction. The news stories were about the servers failing because of the heavy traffic. But people who tried find and sign up for health insurance will tell you that even when the site was up, it was frustrating to navigate, interact with, and understand. What can be remedied in this inherently complex activity has been remedied, through iterated testing and redesign.

So we were excited when we heard that the General Services Administration was going to start a group called 18F as an internal web design agency available to departments throughout the federal government.

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