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Creating a safe and respectful working environment

We feel compelled to offer this response to recent media reports concerning Clay Johnson. The reports describe cases of sexual harassment and misconduct throughout Clay’s career. Clay was a founder of The Department of Better Technology (DOBT), who stepped back from active involvement in 2014 and remained an advisor to the company until it was acquired by CityBase in August 2017. The media reports do not mention any incidents at DOBT, nor are we aware of any such incidents. There were no complaints about Clay’s behavior, formally or informally, during his tenure at DOBT. By all accounts, he treated his colleagues at DOBT with thoughtfulness and respect.

At DOBT we firmly believe every employer owes its employees a safe and respectful working environment. We do not tolerate any form of abuse or harassment.

No one should have to face harassment, bullying or verbal abuse based on any identity. Every workplace, including DOBT, can and must do better at ensuring everyone, particularly those who have been historically discriminated against, are not only treated with respect, but can fully participate in an inclusive environment. This starts with clear and concise policies on workplace behavior, but also includes diversity training, actively recruiting diverse candidates, and ensuring that people of all backgrounds get the same access to mentorship, advice and promotion.

That commitment clearly expressed in the Workplace Tolerance section of our Employee Handbook states:

“DOBT is unabashedly pro-woman, and pro-diversity. This can’t be overstated enough, and it’s something we seek out in the other people that we hire. That said, some people, because of their cultural upbringing may not even be aware that their statements or actions do make people feel uncomfortable. While we do not want to create a ‘safe place for bigots,’ we also don’t have a zero-tolerance policy for anything other than making the same mistakes over and over again. And just to restate it: we won’t hesitate to fire you if you’re making your peers feel uncomfortable because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, or any other way that people you work with choose to identify.”

At DOBT we believe in achieving systemic, lasting change. This change starts with us, our values, and our culture.

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Upgrade your forms with repeating groups

Today we’re adding repeating groups, one of our most requested form features, to Screendoor.

Some forms might ask respondents to fill out the same fields more than once. If you’re building a job application, you might ask for the names of a few references, along with the contact information for each. And if you’re hosting a business registration form, you might ask a few questions about each business partner involved.

For example, here’s an excerpt from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’s Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status:

Repeating groups make it super easy for admins to ask for this kind of information. Once you create a group, you can add as many fields to it as you’d like.

Repeating groups also make it a lot easier for respondents to fill out your form. Since each group only needs to show up once, your respondents will spend a lot less time scrolling through unnecessary duplicate fields.

Like everything in Screendoor, repeating groups really shine when it’s time to analyze and collaborate around responses. Screendoor knows that every answer to a field in a repeating group is related, so we’ve made it easy to search inside their answers and view those answers right inside the responses dashboard.

If you’re creating a new project, you can get started with repeating groups right now. Just drag a repeating group into your form and start adding fields to it.

DOBT has joined CityBase

I’m pleased to announce that, as of today, the Department of Better Technology (DOBT) has officially been acquired by CityBase, a Chicago-based GovTech company that provides payment and digital service infrastructure to cities.

First and foremost, I want to let you know there will be no disruption to Screendoor service. Our team will continue to work on the product and respond promptly to support requests at support@dobt.co.

We started DOBT in 2013 with the aim of becoming the 37Signals of government software. Since 2014, we’ve worked exclusively on Screendoor: building our team, moving (mostly) to Oakland, and expanding our customer base to include a remarkable mix of cities, state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofits and media companies.

We decided to join CityBase because they share our belief that individuals and businesses alike should be treated with dignity when they interact with government. Working within a larger company gives us more resources to execute on our roadmap for Screendoor, and our complementary product offerings will allows us to deliver more value together than would could apart.

On behalf of the entire DOBT team, I want to thank you for putting your trust in us. It’s been a joy to get to know so many of you, and we look forward to continuing to serve you as we enter a new chapter in our company’s story.

We’re eager to share more in the months to come. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at jg@dobt.co with any questions or concerns.

GovTech Link Roundup: Volume 7

Discovery research and modular procurement in action.

18F takes a deeper look at modular procurement and discusses their approach to a new system for the Forest Service. The Technology Transformation Service started this engagement with discovery research, “a process used to better understand what people need from a product or service,” instead of diving into the work. In the end, this upfront feedback helped them build a better user experience and laid the foundation for a more trusting partnership. (Keep an eye out for the rest of the series on their blog.)

If you’d like to see how modular procurement works “in the wild,” look no further than the Child Welfare Digital Services (CDWS) project. CDWS is an attempt by the State of California and local agencies to implement a new child welfare reporting system “using Agile methodologies, free/open source software (FOSS) and user-centered design.” They just awarded a new contract to CivicActions, who will provide development operations management for the project.

Read More…

GovTech Link Roundup: Volume 6

Tech fellows wanted.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (SFMOCI) is looking to add two new innovation fellows to the team. If you’re interested in joining the team responsible for consistent, forward-thinking projects, check out their blog post, or go straight to the application form (hosted on Screendoor).

New America just announced its first class of Public Interest Technology Fellows. New America President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter says that the team “is looking to build an ecosystem for the field of public interest technology”—work that will hopefully shape the way that NGOs work with technology and data.

An update on the White House Tech Summit.

In last week’s roundup, we brought you some news about the White House Tech Summit, including Jennifer Pahlka’s reasons for attending. Luckily, she’s back with two more blog posts. In the first, she praises the truly wonderful response she received from the CfA community, from which trolls were notably missing. The second post offers a rundown of the day’s activities and talks, along with Pahlka’s impressions of the day and her fellow attendees. As you’d expect, her commentary points out the importance of truly improving government services, not just public-facing websites.

Online voting?

Voting has been a hot topic over the past few weeks, and with the recent allegations of foreign interference, most of the commentary has revolved around creating a simpler and more secure process. Predicting Our Future recently published a podcast series on online voting and the far-reaching implications of moving away from paper ballots entirely.

Do yourself a favor and listen to these three fascinating episodes. You’ll come away with greater appreciation for the complexity (and fragility) of our electoral system, plus plenty of intelligent talking points about securing elections against hacking and increasing voter turnout for your next stop at the water cooler.


Read something great this week? Share it with us at hello@dobt.co.

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