Expanding Our Support for Shared Software at Beeck

October 14, 2021–By the Beeck Center

In 2020, the Beeck Center launched a new project to explore ways that states can share software to save money and ultimately have better software products to meet their—and residents’—needs. We learned that dozens of cooperatives—where states or other public entities have been pooling resources to develop and maintain shared software—already exist and have been advancing important policy priorities and otherwise keeping government functions running. We also learned these different groups largely didn’t know about each other, and weren’t tracking opportunities to share their different software products with one another.

The State Software Collaborative, led by former Beeck fellows Robin Carnahan and Waldo Jaquith, has been bringing these different co-ops together for months so they can learn about each other’s products to securely exchange health data between states, the federal government, and hospitals, and to monitor and manage highway traffic. Our fellows who launched and initially led this project conducted months of research to better understand the landscape and opportunities around all the complex needs related to shared software. While Robin and Waldo have returned to government service, we are excited to continue this work. We’re identifying new shared priorities among the co-ops where Beeck Center resources can help them develop and maintain new software, as well as continuing our research to uncover additional co-ops and their products and bring them into this community of practice.

Joining us to lead this work going forward is Aaron Snow, an expert in government technology and service delivery. Aaron most recently served as CEO of the Canadian Digital Service, where he led a team of public servants improving how the Government of Canada designs and delivers digital-first experiences, launching new services such as COVID Alert and GC Notify. Previously, Aaron was a founder and later executive director of 18F, the U.S. government’s technology and service delivery unit housed within the U.S. General Services Administration, and was a 2013 U.S. Presidential Innovation Fellow. 

“States’ digital services, and the software used to deliver services, affect everyone’s lives, sometimes dramatically, as we’ve seen during the pandemic,” Snow said. “I’m thrilled to join the team at Beeck and continue the work Robin and Waldo have done to bring states together around shared priorities, services, and practices.”

We’re also recruiting a second fellow to help lead this work—applications are open until Sunday, Oct. 17. And we will be adding a new community manager position in the days ahead to help us coordinate the growing State Software Collaborative network—watch this space.

While there’s exciting activity in the U.S. to promote and expand shared software, there is a lot to learn from our counterparts around the globe. In addition to bringing his experience from Canada, Aaron will also continue our work to learn about shared software practices and co-ops globally, building on this new case study released today, examining software sharing throughout a region in the UK.

We also know one of the most important aspects of shared software are the different building block components within. Today, we are also publishing a new report detailing the U.S. government’s digital identity resource, Login.gov, and its applicability to state and local governments. With identity verification as one of the first issues any government service must address, this shared federal service is a potential resource for the thousands of state and local governments in the U.S.

We appreciate the great work that our former fellows Robin and Waldo got started here at Beeck and look forward to its future state led by Aaron and the growing team.