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18F is a technology startup within the Federal Government, focused on bridging the gap between industry best practices and the world of bureaucratic agencies. We build a mix of shared government platforms, beach-heads for technological growth, and policy-priority one-offs, focusing on agile planning, user-centered design, and rapid, open-source development. We're similar to a private-sector contractor with a major different in incentive; we ultimately serve the general public. More than half of the employees (myself included) are 100% remote and almost all have a maximum contract of four years for ease of hiring and to bring in new ideas.
I began my tenure as a full-stack web developer, working with small teams of engineers, designers, project managers, and product owners to replace legacy software and manual processes with easier-to-maintain and more efficient versions. A bit after a year into this effort, I was promoted to "Backend Engineering Lead", tasked with improving the technical output of our backend engineers across a wide variety of projects (in addition to working on a specific product's team). In the lead role, I conducted technical evaluations, led engineering-wide discussions, and hosted tech talks. As a project engineer, I helped architect products, developed core systems, and actively participated in client relations.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aims to prevent banks, lendors, and other financial institutions from taking illegal advantage of their customers and to give the public tools to protect their financial well-being. The Technology & Innovation office furthered the agency's mission by hiring roughly thirty designers and developers for a two-year Fellowship. We spear-headed both lofty data exploration tools and more pedestrian intranet wikis, always pushing CFPB's technical bounds. We developed our tools following agile, user-centered practices, almost always in the open. While the majority of CFPB's employees were in DC, the T&I fellows were largely remote, returning to the agency once a quarter to regroup.
My primary role during this fellowship was as a backend web developer, writing tools to ingest data, APIs & templates to make it usable, and performing the devops necessary to keep it all running. I worked in small teams of developers, designers, and project managers to create internal prototypes and launch applications for the public. Notably, a slight majority of my tenure focused on a webapp that parsed, structured, and displayed regulation content. To have the greatest impact in my short term, I also fought hard for fundamental principles like open source, deploying frequently, and limiting bureacracy through presentations, discussions, and the occasional manifesto.
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