Genevieve Gaudet: “Let’s build better foundations, not better facades”
As a service designer working on the social safety net, Genevieve Gaudet frequently talks to people who have found themselves in a government office at one time or another, asking for help with some basic need. And through stories that sometimes span years if not generations, she often finds that they are skeptical about whether or not they will get that help.
There are cracks in our civic life that are both longstanding and urgent, and they are affecting government’s relationship with the people it tries to serve. And to fix it, those of us working both in and with governments need to realize that we’re not starting a new relationship between that person asking for help and their government, but repairing a deeply broken one. Civic technologists need to ground our work in a long-term vision, and hold ourselves accountable for reaching it — together.
“Stability and trust that it’s possible are the foundations upon which government services, the front lines of our democracy, are formed.”
At Code for America Summit, Genevieve spoke about two examples of putting the intention of that service design approach into her work at Nava. The first was helping to launch a new program at Medicare aimed to both control costs and, more importantly, get 34 million Americans the highest possible care. The second is in conjunction with Code for America on our Integrated Benefits Initiative, which leverages technology and design to demonstrate a more human-centered safety net that enables access, improves efficiency, and promotes integrity.
“This is my challenge to the community, to encode a deep level of intention in the work we do right now, and in the way we work together.”
When we focus on repairing the foundations of our work rather than simply patching the cracks, we can take accountability for outcomes that extends beyond the scope of a contract and encode intention into our practices and our industry. We can then be radical about our proposals for ways to improve trust in government services, and rebuild generations of broken trust.
To hear Genevieve’s Summit presentation in full, watch the video below.