Working in the Open: Weeks 31 & 32

One of Code for Canada’s principles is to operate in public. These bi-weekly blog posts put that value into practice, giving readers a window into what we’re doing — and how we do it.

If the past two weeks at Code for Canada were a meal, they’d be a healthy, homemade soup. With onboarding finished, many of us have been able to return to the deep work and strategic planning that helps nourish and sustain our organization. Other members of the Code for Canada are still on the run, travelling for conferences, but they’re meeting supporters, friends and others solving similar problems — it’s a different kind of work, but also restorative!

Lia is diving into the early stages of monitoring and evaluation for the fellowship. We’re surveying fellows and government hosts about their experience of onboarding, as well as their own goals for the the program. The data will help us improve future iterations of onboarding and track the overall progress of the fellowship. The program is about so much more than just building a great digital public service; it’s about knowledge exchange and cultural change. Having information about what the situation is like on the ground today will help us to show the impact fellows have tomorrow.

Lia is also preparing to lead future fellowship programs. We’re lining up government hosts for 2018, and she’s incorporating lessons about project scoping, recruitment and onboarding into our understanding of what it takes to deliver a team of fellows to government. Lia’s a fan of physical prototypes, so she’s been carrying a huge kanban board around the office, full of sticky notes outlining the resources involved in every stage of the fellowship.

Lia and her kanban!

Meghan continued her conference tour, speaking at both DemocracyXChange in Toronto and GovMaker in New Brunswick. While at the latter, she dropped by Civic Tech Fredericton’s Tuesday hacknight! Civic Tech Fredericton is one of the newest civic tech groups in Canada, but it’s already home to a thriving community — even Mayor Mike O’Brien was in attendance to chat about the exciting new Digital Fredericton strategy (Editor’s note: we believe this makes Fredericton the first civic tech group to boast mayoral participation. Achievement unlocked!). Cities across Canada can benefit from the work being done at civic tech hacknights, so it’s great to see senior municipal leaders taking note!

Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien (right) joined Rob Davidson and Code for Canada’s Meghan Hellstern at Civic Tech Fredericton on Nov. 21

Now that she’s back, Meghan is turning her attention to CodeAcross Toronto, the annual civic hackathon that brings government and non-profit innovators together with the civic tech community. CodeAcross Toronto 2018 is slated for next March; in the interim, Code for Canada, in conjunction with Ontario’s Public Service Policy Innovation Hub, the Open Government and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, is offering a free workshop Dec. 12 for anyone interested in being a hackathon challenge owner. If you’re curious about how the latest methods in technology and design can help you fulfill your public good goals, or if you’re looking to engage tech-savvy residents around a certain issue or dataset, RSVP for the workshop!

Luke is putting the finishing touches on the next iteration of We conducted user testing over the summer, and have made a series of changes aimed at helping visitors discover ways to get involved with Code for Canada through our website. As a former journalist, Luke doesn’t have a background in tech or product, so the project has been a window — albeit a small one — into the world of user research, iteration and development! The site still needs to be translated, audited for accessibility and mobile, but we’re aiming to have it go live before the new year.

When he hasn’t been crafting new calls to action on our website, Luke has also been developing a more robust content strategy for Code for Canada. There are so many stories of civic tech and digital government success in Canada that aren’t being told — stories of real change and impact in government, stories of communities coming together to address challenges using tech and design, and stories of entrepreneurs finding new business models by serving the public good! We want to find those stories and share them with our growing audience. So, if you have a digital government or civic tech story you’d like to see told, let us know! You can reach Luke at

Dorothy delivered the keynote address at the Infonex Digital Government Conference this week! She met some folks from the public, private and non-profit sectors from across Canada doing amazing work helping governments to modernize their services to better meet residents’ needs. Everywhere Code for Canada has gone this fall, there’s been lots of interest in the fellowship program, and Infonex was no different!

The Ontario fellowship team stopped by our Open House Thursday to recap their first two weeks at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development! They introduced themselves, discussed their plans for the fellowship project — which involves enhancing the experience of Ontarians navigating the adult education system — and chatted with Code for Canada supporters. We recruit fellows based on their experience delivering impactful and user-friendly digital products, but working in the open is a key plank of the fellowship, so it’s definitely a bonus to have an entire team of great communicators!

Lastly, the employee of the week(notes) certainly goes to Jenny, who’s been hard at work preparing Code for Canada’s books for the end of the year. Jenny has taken our financials to the next level, integrating our various spreadsheets with the right software solution, and enabling staff to easily track and be accountable for their program budgets.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading about everything that happens behind the scenes at Code for Canada. We’ll see you in two weeks!