Code for America’s Amanda Renteria on defining the citizen experience

In the tech world, we’ve seen time and time again how customer experience can make or break a business. But when it comes to the government, is there such a thing as the citizen experience?

Government services shouldn’t be renowned for their endless queues, confusing forms, and excessive bureaucracy. They should be simple, accessible, and easy to use for everyone. Amanda Renteria is a firm believer in this idea. In fact, it’s what’s been driving her in all her years as a public servant.

For those working in the public sector, Amanda is a household name – she was the National Political Director for Secretary Hilary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential Campaign and served as the Chief of Operations at the California Department of Justice in 2017 and 2018. She ran for the United States House of Representatives from California’s 21st congressional district in 2014 and for Governor of California in 2018. Not to mention that, as a member of the Democratic Party, Amanda was the first Latina chief of staff in the history of the U.S. Senate. And finally, last year, she joined Code For America as their CEO to do exactly what she does best – to make government work for all.

In this episode of Inside Intercom, our Director of Brand Marketing Sarah Tran had the honour of seating down with Amanda for a chat about how governments can leverage technology to build better services and empower its citizens.

If you’re short on time, here are some quick takeaways:

  • To make government work for people, Amanda and her team actually walk a mile in their shoes – from waiting on queues to filling out tax forms. Only then can you understand what an efficient service looks like.
  • Feedback can’t just be incorporated every election cycle. Real-time feedback loops are crucial to make a timely difference in people’s lives.
  • Mistakes come with the territory. When you stop worrying about making them, you stop leaning on what has worked in the past and start thinking about what could work even better.
  • User research is crucial when designing programs that make people feel welcome. It’s easier to have a constructive dialogue when you know a citizen’s experience and the problems they and their community face – let that information permeate every program, every activity, and every service.
  • It’s not uncommon for governments to try something new and end up dropping it. Ensuring programs have staying power and governments have the tools to maintain them is as important as creating the programs in the first place.

If you enjoy our discussion, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes, stream on Spotify or grab the RSS feed in your player of choice. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.


Sarah Tran: Amanda, we are so delighted to have you as a guest on Inside Intercom today. You are the CEO of an impactful and visionary organization called Code for America. Part of the mission for Code for America is to use the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American public and how the public improves government. So it’s a really interesting time to be chatting with you about your organization’s work. Welcome to our podcast.

Amanda Renteria: Thank you for having me, and thank you for engaging in this kind of conversation because it’s an important way to get there.

Sarah: Before we jump right into it because we have so many questions, I’d love to spend just a little bit of time on your background. You started in the financial industry and then made a shift change to become a teacher in, I believe, your hometown, potentially small hometown.

Amanda: That’s right.

Sarah: And then you’ve spent most of your career in public service, which is amazing. You served as COO for the California Department of Justice. You worked with Secretary Clinton as her national political director for the 2016 presidential campaign. Then, of course, among your many, many accolades, you’re also the first Latina chief of staff in the history of the US Senate.

Amanda: That’s right.

Sarah: That is amazing.

Amanda: There’s nothing quite like waking up when your job is to try and make the world better. That’s what led me into all of these different roles and getting a view into the world that is public service. It’s such an interesting time – when you think about public service over the last 20 years, how much it’s changed, how much people are civically engaged today, how much tech has changed over that period, as well as all these different roles. And we’re certainly talking at a time where we’re seeing a whole new chapter in America, not only politics and public service but American civic tech, gov tech world, given all the social distancing and the new way of doing things because of the pandemic.

Taking government to the next level

Sarah: You joined Code for America last year, is that correct? May of last year?

Amanda: I did. Mayday, yeah, the first day of May. Quite an interesting time to join. On the other hand, I’ve got to say, I mean, everybody was jumping into a crisis at the time, and it really does give you a window into the view of the core work and the core passions of an organization when you enter at a time like that. And so, it’s been quite the journey as we’ve tried to keep up and do anything and everything that we can to reach people with the programs we have.

Sarah: You joined in the midst of such an unprecedented year in American politics, in global history with the pandemic. Would you say that that sort of situation and the stressors on society are what drew you to the organization? Were there other factors that drew you to Code for America?

“What was getting work done were programs at the hyper-local level, largely because people were left to fend for themselves.”

Amanda: There were a host of different factors that did surface throughout the pandemic, but as a public servant at heart, you began to kind of look around and say, “What are the organizations that are thinking about taking the government to that next level?” And in a world where, a year ago, politics seemed hard to move, policy seemed really hard to move. What was actually getting work done were programs at the very hyper-local level, largely because people were left to fend for themselves, cities and counties across the country were left to figure it out. The interesting space was how innovative organizations were partnering with the government to reach people at a time when folks really needed help.

That’s always been true. I come from a little town in the Central Valley, a little rural town, one of the lowest-income congressional districts in the state. I’ve always believed in the importance of government, particularly in those areas. And it became even more real during the pandemic. Part of the reason why I’m in public service is that I’ve always wanted to make sure that places like that aren’t forgotten, that people there are seen in places like Capitol Hill or the halls of Congress. Code for America, in many ways, is bringing those voices into the light. They bring those people into the room when developing policies and programs. And that, to me, is how we get to the kind of government that really does serve everyone.

“We sit with them in social services offices, we stand in line to know how long it takes to fill out your tax forms.”

Sarah: Okay, we could probably dedicate an entire podcast episode to the first question that we asked, and I have so many questions about your experience with the 2016 presidential campaign with Secretary Clinton. That said, we want to jump in and talk about the work that you do at Code for America. How do you operate on a practical level, as you’re applying the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American public?

Amanda: We really are partners with the government. We take this relationship from the very beginning and sit down with caseworkers. In addition, we also walk with people who use the government. We sit with them in social services offices, we stand in line to know how long it takes to fill out your tax forms. We really try and understand the people served by the government and those folks who are doing the work behind the scenes. That piece of it has been particularly important to us as we build real solutions that can be efficient, effective, and, as we often say, that make sure that it’s treating people with dignity and respect.

The three areas we’ve really focused on are Criminal Justice, with our automatic record clearance program; our Social Safety Net, where we do #GetCalFresh, which is one of our well-known programs, working on food stamps and food assistance programs and bringing integrated benefits together. And then we have a civic tech volunteer network that jumps in when there’s a crisis. What we want to make sure we do at Code for America is not just build the practices and principles, but continue to get better at them because we’re on the ground, doing the work, listening to people, and building that bridge to make sure folks get what they need.

Sarah: And that optimization, bringing in data and optimizing that and folding it back in, but y’all are doing it at a much wider scale. It’s great to hear about you sitting with the people who are being served by the government, getting those insights directly feels very valuable.

Amanda: It’s the only way to make sure that you have the right feedback loops. Because at the end of the day, if you’re not serving folks in the way they want to be served, you’re just not going to have a successful program.

The citizen experience

Sarah: As we think about serving the citizen almost as a customer – we talk about that as the customer experience, and maybe in this sense, this is the citizen experience. When we’re looking at applying these tech principles to government work, what do you think are the key areas of education within government organizations that we need to focus on?

Amanda: I think some of this is going back to the core principle of public service, which is about serving people wherever they are. And some of that, on the tech side, is getting our language right. We often talk about a customer, but in politics or when you’re in an elected office, we talk about constituency. So maybe it’s constituency services. And I do think an element here is that a lot of elected officials, a lot of city officials, get feedback loops every election cycle, but we need to start closing that so that there are feedback loops every program and every quarter so that you can integrate what you’re learning from people in real-time and not wait four years or two years or six years. And that’s the way government programs work at the moment. I think we’ve got to close that loop and do it in real-time, the way that data and technology can.

The second piece is, I think there’s this philosophy within government, and I remember being on the public service side, that you’re so afraid to make a mistake. You’re so afraid to hear that we didn’t quite get it right. And I think we need to open up and embed a new philosophy where people and elected officials and city government and county government are all together in this, we’re all trying to make this work in a better way. And if we can break down some of those judgment barriers, I think we’ll get to a better place.

“There’s this belief that you cannot make a mistake, and that leads people to be risk-averse or to lean on, “Well, it’s been done like this in the past.” And that’s the part that hinders innovation.”

And then the third thing, I would say, is coming together on a real future vision of what government should be. Many people think of government as something that’s there, that’s fixing holes, that’s making sure that the system runs. We need to start thinking about government as a competitive advantage in the world, as an innovation center to push things into a new direction. If we can be there, it changes how we work together for and with and by the government.

Sarah: I love that second point about not being afraid to fail. In the tech world, especially, I think Google was one of the first tech giants that talked about failing fast, right? Being able to pilot and learn things really quickly. But you’re right, when applied to the public sector, failing fast and failing quickly sounds like it may not be as easily adopted.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s not the way the systems work. People expect the government to work a hundred percent of the time. There’s this overall belief that you cannot make a mistake, and that leads people to be risk-averse or to lean on, “Well, it’s been done like this in the past.” And that’s the part that I think hinders innovation and feedback loops and a good collaborative effort as you move forward.

Sarah: Within our tech ecosystem, there’s a lot of thought leadership around that concept of customer success. And it’s an area we’re very interested in ourselves when we’re talking about the customer experience. In your experience, are there certain specific customer success learnings that should be applied by civil servants when thinking about serving this citizen as a customer?

Amanda: There are so many different ways you can use data and technology to inform whether programs and systems work. One important aspect as the government takes on how to improve programs and how to reach people where they are is making sure that tech and customer success don’t just live in a department or a silo over there, but are embedded in each of the programs, in each of the activities and services you do. And that part is new for the government because, for the most part, it still has a pretty bureaucratic process of, “Here’s what my department does.” And so we’ve got to start embedding some of those different cross-functional ways of thinking and acting in government.

“You see this right now, how important it is to get information to people in a trusted way. The government hasn’t been very good at that.”

Sarah: Right. It’s interesting to think about that because even for some companies, customer success could also be siloed. It sounds like there’s a common interest across the board to integrate customer success into the way an organization works, putting the customer as the cornerstone of the activities and the programs and the initiatives.

Amanda: That’s right. And when you think about all the different services that government does, even in the work that Code for America does, constituencies that we work with are different depending on the services we’re working on. And there’s a nuance there that’s really important. When I was working at the California Department of Justice, it was very different from working with the State of Michigan on Economic Development. And so that’s why it’s incredibly important that each of these departments has its own feedback loops and, at the same time, is learning cross-cutting principles of how to do customer success well.

Making government accessible

Sarah: I’d love to shift gears and talk about creating accessibility and creating an accessible government. We think a lot about customer support, customer success, how businesses can better support their customer, how some tech companies excel at offering what we call proactive support. A key part of thinking about this is making sure that people get the information they need at the right time when they need it in the right place and in a place that they can access that information.

So, it strikes me that accessibility must be a very important factor when we’re talking about offering support to citizens. How do you think about that accessibility? Is it an important factor when we’re talking about offering that proactive support to citizens, getting them the information that they need at the right time?

Amanda: You see this right now in a crisis, how important it is to get information to people in a trusted way and how valuable it is to set a strategy for a country or a state. The issue is that the government hasn’t been very good at that. And we’re learning, the government is learning in real-time why you need to build these systems of accessibility, of communication, of trust. Much of what has been done over the last, I’d say, decade-plus, is a conversation about being afraid of reaching too many people in a program because maybe there’ll be fraud or maybe someone will take advantage of it. And we’ve got to start changing that mentality.

“Does that mean sometimes you’re going to make a mistake here or there? Yes. But the intention is, how do you close gaps? How do you reach as many people as possible?”

And certainly, with the pandemic, with kids being out of school and working remotely, we’re all learning how to do things in a new way. The idea of “government is supposed to reach all people,” does that mean sometimes you’re going to make a mistake here or there? Yes. But the intention is, how do you close gaps? How do you reach as many people as possible? And if that could be the guiding light, as opposed to a fear of failure or fear of fraud, we would have an entirely different way of working together. And I think that’s the hope for the future – as we come out of this pandemic, understanding the importance of unity and good communication. That’s the real hope for the government at large, that there’s a real emphasis on being able to have that dialogue with people and knowing the importance of it as government evolves.

Sarah: And using technology to support that dialogue, I imagine.

Amanda: Absolutely. There are ways that we can reach people that hadn’t been reached before. I’ve seen this from very different angles when I was on the Hill and we were working on healthcare.gov – how were we getting that information out there? We were trying to use big media platforms, right? And then you’re in an election cycle and you realize there’s Instagram and text messaging and all these new ways of getting people engaged, right? It’s absurd it’s taken so long, but in order to have a government that is on the leading edge of innovation, it’s all about bringing those tools together and saying, “How do we reach you in Minnesota when we’re trying to reach indigenous communities for benefits? What are the systems in place that we need to bring in?” And technology can be a lever to do that in a way that we can’t do in person.

The art of communication

Sarah: Do you think some of that, adopting these new channels and these new ways of outreach, has to do with the talent pool and the skill sets that exist within the public sector at the moment? I know that in Code for America you have some branches where you’re working on fellowships and bringing new talent pools into the public sector.

Amanda: That’s right. You can’t do it if you don’t have the skillset to continue moving forward. I think what we’ve seen in the last decade and a half is that governments would try something new, but then they had no one to maintain it within the systems. And that’s really slowed down technology adoption. What we need is folks who are embedded within cities, states, governments, or federal government to make sure that it’s not just a tech project or a cool app, it is actually changing the way people work, the way people process stuff internally.

And by the way, the way it can evolve as more tools become available, as we learn more about what people need when they need it. That’s a key aspect to it. And I got to say, I am hopeful in seeing all of the fellowships we’re beginning to see across the country. I am hopeful in seeing the big investment that the Biden transition team has put out there in terms of what they’re putting into tech in different arenas. That is a huge step in beginning to change the way government operates.

“When COVID hit, everybody went to city websites. And frankly, I remember seeing very few people hitting city websites that way.”

Sarah: Yeah, it’s a very tricky balance. We spend a lot of time thinking about that ourselves, the way people leverage technology to communicate, how they use the different channels, even down to the way we have conversations and our comfort level in using different channels for different types of support. It changes so quickly.

Amanda: That’s right.

Sarah: And tech has a hard time keeping up with it. And so when you bring in more complicated organizations and structures like government structures, I would imagine it would take time.

Amanda: It does take time. I’ll say this though, if we can get it right at the government level, if we can really get it right, we’re such a big entity that we can drive people to a certain place. It wasn’t a surprise that when COVID hit, everybody went to city websites. And frankly, I remember seeing very few people hitting city websites that way.

There is this opportunity that if you can get over the hump, you can drive it a bit here. And when I talk about this future vision of government, that’s why it can be a really powerful place for innovation. And particularly, as it pertains to tech and communication and client service, you can push the industry in a direction. You can push technology to where people are coming to you.

Sarah: When I think about the pandemic, when you feel there’s a dearth of information, you are going to seek it out. People are looking for it, they’re oftentimes hungry for it. So it’s just a matter of figuring out how to fill that gap.

Amanda: That’s right. And especially at a time where people have a lot of questions about media, right? What are the trusted institutions? And I do want to say, I still believe our democratic institutions, our state government websites are trustworthy. You might disagree with it, but you believe they’re trying to give you the right information.

“One of the ways we talk about how to reach people is that we’re creating a room. And when people walk into that room, do they feel welcomed?”

Sarah: Talking about accessibility, it can run a lot deeper. It could be a lot more than just being able to access a website, an online form, or just clear information. I’d love to hear how you think about accessibility as it impacts equality, diversity, inclusion. When you start to fold in all of those other factors, how do you think about that?

Amanda: One of the ways we talk about how to reach people is that we’re creating a room. And when people walk into that room, do they feel welcomed? When you open that app and it says, “Fill out here.” Does it make you feel like you’re supposed to be there? I know that sometimes it gets lost because it’s just a page, or it’s just a picture, but the way we ask questions, the way you say hello, it matters. It matters to me because you’re connecting to me.

Technology is allowing for conversations. And if that conversation at the very beginning begins with, “I don’t trust you, who are you?”, it feels very different than, “Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here.” That’s the tech we talk about at Code for America because that’s the opening of true accessibility where you are seeing people. And from there, the questions move into more of who you are so that we can reach you and continue the dialogue. It’s not just that first hello. As we get to know you, are the systems connecting with you and your community so that we can have a longer dialogue and understand what you need and what the community needs?

Data and empathy: a balancing act

Sarah: That’s lovely. As you interact with whatever technology, whatever entity is trying to support you, you want to feel welcome in that interaction. How do you think about the actual design of that? I would imagine that would require a level of openness and diversity in the way that one designs the UX, designs the way the technology interacts with the community that’s receiving it.

“It’s hard to explain this, except, when all of a sudden, you see the before and after and you go, “Wow, these feel different.” If they do, we’ve done something right.”

Amanda: That’s right. And that’s why our user research, our customer research, our constituency research is so important. It’s central to the work that we do because there’s no way you can make someone feel welcome if you don’t know who they are or where they come from or the lives they live. One of the pieces that has been really important for Code for America is how to start integrating folks who have lived experiences, who have dealt with the food stamp program, who have dealt with the criminal justice system and make sure that, from the very beginning, they are embedded, their ideas are embedded, and the perspectives are embedded in the design of the programs. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain this, except, when all of a sudden, you see the two programs, the before and after, and you go, “Wow, these feel different.” If they do, we’ve done something right. Because we’ve incorporated something from the very beginning that you can’t even place it, but you’ve made something feel different through technology and through the way it interacts with someone.

Sarah: It sounds like insights and data and bringing those insights in is a really big part of Code for America.

Amanda: It’s absolutely core to us. And what’s interesting too, is we keep trying to push the envelope even more. So yes, we know that we have to do research to understand it. Now we’re in a pandemic: How do we adjust? What are the folks that we’ve been sitting with? What are they going through? So we try to, as best we can, to push the questions and the thinking and the relationships to get us there. And that is the core of who we are. And I think it makes us the organization that evolves with the times because we know it’s not just a moment in time but things move and change and communities evolve as well.

“We were deciding whether maternity care should be part of the affordable care act and you’re sitting there eight months pregnant as the chief of staff going, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Sarah: And I have to ask, I have not worked in the public sector. I’m curious from your perspective, bringing data and insights with a balance of empathy and diversity is such a critical balance to strike, something that tech is trying to excel at. As an industry, tech is starting to learn the empathy and the diversity side of the house, and bringing those two things together is something that the tech industry is also learning. Because, as you say, customers and our world in society are changing. Is that something that already exists in the public sector and the way that governments work? Or do you think that’s something the public sector is also learning?

Amanda: Oh, I definitely think it’s something that the public sector is also learning. There’s no doubt. The window I’ve had into this, being the first Latina chief of staff, and we’re talking about healthcare, and somebody looks around and says, “Who knows how immigrants get healthcare, right?” And you look around the room and you realize, “Oh my gosh.” How is this not more readily available? How is this perspective not in the room? Or deciding whether maternity care should be part of the affordable care act and you’re sitting there eight months pregnant as the chief of staff going, “Are you kidding me?”

We are known for being a welcoming society. How do we ensure that government has that same frame and thinking and process so that we can honestly say, “Yeah, we welcome you here and we see you through this journey together because you make this country better.” And we know that by truly serving everyone, we’re the government that can lead the world in a way that is empathetic, innovative. That is all the things we hope to leave to our kids someday. I think that’s the true beauty of what we’re trying to do at Code for America.

Sarah: I’m curious if you feel like there are signals that show that government is ready for this shift change, for this balance of art and science, of bringing in hard data as well as the softer side of data, where you’re bringing in all those different viewpoints. Do you feel like there’s progress there?

Amanda: I do, and there’s a couple of reasons I believe that. One, seeing a chief science and technology officer become a cabinet-level role is a huge deal. It means the president is hearing from that sector, from that way of thinking. But two, a whole host of new folks have come into the office, at all levels of government. They are technology-born and they think differently. And third, I think the tech sector is thinking about its role not just in technology, but broader society, broader government. And it’s been a really important aspect to come together and say, “I have a role, I have a civic responsibility to make sure that tech shows up in a way that understands where we want to go in this country together.” And so I’ve never been more hopeful about the role tech can play in the direction of this country.

Lessons from the public sector

Sarah: I’m very hopeful now, so thank you for that. But I also wonder if there’s a benefit from tech to learn from the government as well. Are there learnings that tech can learn from the public sector, from the way the government is run? Is there a mutually beneficial relationship there?

Amanda: Strangely, I’m going to say slowing down and listening to different customers and clients is really important, particularly the hardest to reach. How do corporations make the time to hear from or figure out how to reach the hardest to reach? That’s often left to the government or non-profits, but I believe private sector companies have a lot to learn from that too. At the very least, a more empathetic approach – maybe if you change this question just a little bit, you don’t lose volume, but you gain a whole new community.

 

“We need to get back to the role of what our community is, and I think the next generations will hold corporations accountable if they don’t.”

I think there’s also just this waking up every day and making the world better combined with innovation and shareholder value and all the things that government seeks to do. We need to get back to the role of what our community is, and I think the next generations will hold corporations accountable if they don’t. So, that’s an important piece they can learn from the heart and the mission of public service.

Sarah: Absolutely. Just that empathy piece, down to the nuances of conversation, being able to open up a conversation with citizens in a way that they feel like they’re already coming into a respected place. Customer experience can be such a cold art, but it is very much about the openness of a business to listen to their customers, much like how the openness of government to listen to their constituents.

Amanda: That’s right. We talk a lot about the different code-switching to have that credibility and trust, no matter what group you’re in, really understanding the different language. One of the things we put out was a language guide within the organization to make sure that we all understood the words we use or don’t use, and this is why. That why is really important at Code for America and anyone interacting in the public and with clients everywhere.

Sarah: Listening to you speak about all of this makes me feel like there’s a shift in the mindset, whether it’s the tech industry or we’re talking about partnering with the government. Maybe the best first step is shifting that mindset to be a little bit more open, to be a little bit more empathetic.

It’s all about the stickiness

Sarah: As we talk about hope, I have to mention this, we have a new term with the new administration, and I know you’ve penned a blog post recently talking about how there is hope, but we’re also teetering on a very precarious situation right now here in the US. From your perspective, beyond this initial sense of hope and this ability to take the opportunity to take us through this pivotal moment, what are some of the practical things you think about when partnering with it a new government? What are some of the opportunities and challenges in front of us with the Biden and Harris administration?

“We need the government to have staying power. It’s not just one moment in time, we need to walk it all the way through. And that’s the part where I get nervous.”

Amanda: So, number one is just making sure that we recover. There are a lot of different crises going on in the world – the social unrest, the economic challenges ahead. But one of the things that always occurs to me, and I was on the Hill during the great recession, is remembering that yes, we have this moment of crisis right now that everyone is going to look to address in a relief package or whatever. But we need the government to have staying power throughout this. It’s not just one moment in time, we need to walk it all the way through. And that’s the part where I get nervous.

While I remain hopeful, everyone wants a silver bullet, we all do. The hard work of changing the way we think, of changing the processes, of making sure to hear the tough feedback and make things better, that’s the part that I get nervous about. We see it from the federal government to the state government, to the county, to the city, to the neighborhood. That full chain is a really important aspect to having people believe in government institutions again and to be that empowering mechanism that government should be.

“Those things, the minute they become automatic, you don’t need the extra paperwork. You’re not burdened by paperwork or bureaucracy.”

Sarah: In some of the research we’ve done in understanding more about Code for America, it seems like you all talk a lot about the stickiness of programs and initiatives. Is that how, philosophically, you all think about it at Code for America, the way that you structure your programs, your initiatives?

Amanda: Yeah, the whole idea is we don’t want to do this work. We want you to do this work, government entity or community-based organization or volunteer group, right? We want to make sure that we are coaching others, empowering others to do it. We’ll work on the next thing, right? We’ll help try and evolve that process, but we want you – the government, the system – to feel empowered to do it. To the extent that we can make some of these things just automatic, right? I think about record clearance in that way – the minute we can actually put in, “once you have served your sentence, it’s an automatic clearance” so that you can get a job and you can take your kid on that school program. Those things, the minute they become automatic, you don’t need the extra paperwork. You’re not burdened by paperwork or bureaucracy. Those are the things that get us excited, that it exists beyond us and then we move to the next thing.

Sarah: So really just always being at the forefront and pushing the envelope, but ensuring that what was implemented before really, really sticks with the government partner that you have.

Amanda: Yeah, we don’t go away. Oftentimes people say, “Oh, you’re going to come in and you’re going to do this?” And we’re like, “No, no way.” Anyone who has ever worked with us knows we’re always a phone call away when something happens with the system where they need help. We’re partners.

“I appreciate impatience that makes us all better and makes it all easier”

Sarah: I’m all about finding the simplicity and trying to eliminate bureaucracy where you can. It reminds me of this article I read ages ago around millennials burning out and not being able to make the simplest decisions. They don’t know how to buy health care, they don’t know how to buy insurance because they’re just easily overwhelmed by complexity. I’m a big fan of that simplicity.

Amanda: I appreciate impatience that makes us all better and makes it all easier.

Sarah: Absolutely. Before we wrap everything up, I’d love to know where our listeners can go to keep up with you and your work and the Code for America work.

Amanda: Yeah. Please follow @codeforamerica on Twitter, and I’m @AmandaRenteria. Every now and then I’m on BBC, ABC, and MSNBC. And in fact, it wasn’t just a couple of days ago that I got asked on NBC, “Does it really help if government works? Is that a way to bring the country together, to bring the parties together?” And it was so fun to say, “Yes. Government working matters. That’s what really starts to build trust.” I just really believe that. Thank you for having conversations like this because it does take all of us, right? All of us interact with the government, all of us have a belief in our government, and I hope that we can all move to the same page where government becomes the thing that we can all be proud of.

Sarah: Absolutely. It’s been an honor to speak with you. So great to hear what Code for America is doing, sitting at that intersection of the tech industry and government and pushing that envelope and constantly creating the stickiness in technology for the government that I think is so valuable. And as I’ve said before, Amanda, I am now very hopeful, very excited, very optimistic about our future and where both the tech industry and the public sector are going. Thank you so much for this conversation, it was a pleasure.

Amanda: Thank you, Sarah, I appreciate it.

Inside Intercom Podcast – 2019 updated images