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18F Consulting

Building a high-performing team of digital experts.

Summary

18F Consulting was a specialized team of digital experts within the General Services Administration (GSA) focused on helping agencies achieve digital mastery.

The logo of 18F Consulting.

The challenge

To succeed in today's public-service environment, agencies need to think and be digital. For most, that requires fundamental practice, culture, and technology change. The challenge: how do you build an organization within government whose mission is to help those agencies institutionalize that change?

The solution

To address this challenge, Chris Cairns and Robert Read founded and built 18F Consulting, an intergovernmental management consulting group housed within the GSA.

Rather than default to a change strategy of importing "Silicon Valley tech culture" into government, Chris and Robert recognized the unique talents and knowledge of institutional players — such as career civil servants and federal contractors — and instead brought the best of both worlds together.

Over the course of a year, Chris and Robert recruited, hired, led, and managed high-performing multidisciplinary teams — from both the public and private sectors — who worked hand-in-hand with numerous agencies in pursuit of digital mastery. These teams produced some of 18F's most notable, innovative, and transformative client work and reshaped how GSA delivers technology services to the rest of government.

The results

Notable results include:

  • Hired over 40 design, product, data, engineering, policy, and acquisition experts leveraging the Schedule A(r) hiring authority
  • Executed nearly 45 projects with federal and state & local clients
  • Achieved near-perfect customer service ratings, as reported by Congress' Government Accountability Office
  • Ignited transformational change at multiple agencies, including the creation of agency-specific digital teams based on the 18F Consulting talent model
  • Influenced over $1 billion in IT acquisition spend
  • Enabled agencies to avoid hundreds of millions in unnecessary technology acquisition costs
  • Produced and publicly shared over 35 knowledge resources, including blog posts and how-to guides
  • Grew into multiple new organizations within GSA's Technology Transformation Service, including Office of Acquisitions, 18F Transformation, and 18F Learn