WNSF: Reimagining the Digital Reform of Government in the Trump Era with Jen Pahlka

How should civic-minded technologists approach the ongoing reinvention of government in the Trump era?
The Bay Area tech community, like much of the rest of the country, is still grappling with what Trump’s election will mean for the future of the United States. Donald Trump’s stance on innovation and technology is somewhat of an unknown at this stage, and has attracted much less attention than many of his other divisive campaign platforms. The future of many digital efforts—including the United States Digital Service, created by President Obama in 2014 to encourage people with tech expertise to do a tour of duty improving government—is one looming question. Obama said he considered the USDS “a SWAT team, a world-class technology office inside of the government.” What happens to this SWAT team under President Trump? What happens to similar efforts at other federal agencies and in states, counties, and cities across the country? The state of California is making a play to be the next frontier for digital transformation. What does that frontier look like under a Trump presidency?

Jen Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly led this difficult and important conversation during our January What’s Now: San Francisco event. The founder and Executive Director of Code for America, Jen served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer from June 2013 to June 2014 and co-founded the USDS. Tim O’Reilly (also Jen’s husband) was a pioneer in the Gov. 2.0 movement in the decade leading into the Obama years. Jen and Tim will discuss the role that technologists passionate about civil service can play in the next four years. How can tech industry professionals serve their country? Will they resist working in Trump’s White House? Should the tech community back out of public service, or deepen its commitment? We assembled a great collection of people to think through these challenging issues in real time.