Making Technology Transform Government — the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Fellowship Program

I love this from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau:

If you’re a talented developer or designer, you’re getting a lot of offers. But you need a serious challenge. And we’re pretty sure you won’t find anything as serious as this.

We know what you’re thinking: a government job? It’s probably the last thing you had in mind. What on earth would you do here? Amazing things, that’s what.

The CFPB Design+Technology Fellowship is a two-year program for developers, graphic designers, and UX pros to help us build a new government agency.

Join us, and you will be given an opportunity to help create a dream technology environment for a new organization. In the process, you’ll improve the lives of millions of Americans. Maybe you’re just out of college and you are looking to sharpen your skills. Or maybe you want a break from building widgets and want to spend some time making things that really matter.

Either way, you’ll never have another opportunity like this.

And this makes me wish I were young again:

You will spend your first few months in close contact with the Technology group here at our headquarters across from the White House. These months will be a crash course in CFPB’s missions and the Technology team’s design and development process. You’ll then be paired with a non-technical office and will gain an in-depth understanding of their particular mission.

After immersion, you can work from a location of your choice.

There, you will design and build products that help your partners advance their mission. Though remote, you will be in daily contact with your teammates, the Technology team, and your non-technical partners.

You may be occasionally asked to return to DC to meet with your colleagues face-to-face.

It’s a chance to reconnect, broaden your network, and find opportunities for collaborating with other teams.

The description of the actual work:

The mission of the CFPB is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans. The CFPB relies on intense collaboration between the technology team and our expert staff. You’ll play a critical role in achieving our mission by experimenting, designing solutions to problems, and making ideas happen. The opportunities to contribute are limitless, and may include:

Providing market insight: Are foreclosures up? Are credit card debts reaching a tipping point? What’s driving student loan defaults? As a CFPB Design+Technology Fellow, you will work side-by-side with economists and researchers to spot trends in the marketplace. You will build visualizations that distill complex data into graphics that impact decision-making. And you will create tools for our public web site that explain complex issues in ways that everyday people can understand.
Bringing regulatory examination into the digital age: The CFPB employs hundreds of examiners who monitor the practices of thousands of consumer financial institutions. It’s important that they do that job well. They need the best tools possible. You can help build them for us.
Assisting consumers directly: Our consumer response team solves real problems for people in difficult financial situations with few places to turn. Help us help consumers.
Enabling consumers to make informed decisions: People need fair, unbiased, and understandable information about their finances. Design the tools and disclosures that millions of people rely upon to make financial choices.
Streamlining government: Help ensure all of the above goes smoothly by building tools that make the Bureau more efficient and more transparent. Publish our budget and procurement data so the whole country can see our books. Improve the FOIA process so that citizens have increased access to information. Build a developer community around our APIs. Design systems that allow CFPB staff to communicate and collaborate more effectively. And do all of this on a common platform that lets us easily share these tools with the rest of the federal government.

Lets hope that this is model for how technology will transform agency after agency.  Of course, it is far easier to build technology in properly when you are starting an agency from scratch, but how wonderful that they are trying.  Lets think about what a parallel model might be for state courts or legal aid coalitions to attract that kind of talent and energy.  Maybe LSC or foundation support for internships for cutting edge programmers and designers — and networking to keep them on the cutting edge.  Maybe pro bono mentoring from transformative folks in the private sector.

Let’s also hope that the tools the fellows build can be used by access to justice organizations to help those we serve understand their rights, get information on the current status of any situations that might be creating problems, and assert their rights.  Let’s hope indeed, that our networks work with CFBP as they build their agenda and toolkits.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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