How Two Latinas from the Obama Administration Bring Tech Directly to Changemakers

Article/Op-Ed in Medium
June 28, 2017

Vivian Graubard and Cecilia Muñoz authored a piece on Medium about the launch of the Public Interest Technology project.

Failure. It’s a frightening word — anathema to most who work in Washington, and especially to those of us who craft policy. And yet it is among the most productive forces in the world — the necessity that births invention. It is impossible to fix a system until you admit that it’s broken. This level of introspection is almost revolutionary within federal institutions, but became the quick and constant task of the United States Digital Service (USDS) in 2014. USDS is a tech startup hatched within the White House. This “SWAT Team of Nerds” was deployed throughout the bureaucracy to reengineer old processes and reimagine public service for the modern age.

As the former Director of the Domestic Policy Council (DPC) and a founding member of USDS, we saw the power of this approach first hand. Whether it was creating a college scorecard or digitizing the immigration application process, the lesson was clear: when people solving big problems collaborate with technical thinkers, paradigms can shift, and the world can change.