Nov 03 2023

10x’s Digital Experience Projects Are More Public-Facing Than Ever

The federal program has evolved its investment portfolio to meet citizen expectations of improved customer experience when dealing with the government.

The General Services Administration’s program for improving digital public service has altered its investment profile to increasingly fund projects citizens will use and benefit from.

10x’s move to improve customer experience with human-centered design products and modern interfaces led to the recent creation of, a digital notifications service that allows agencies to send custom text messages about federal benefits to recipients at low cost.

The program, which exclusively works on projects proposed by civil servants, originally focused on back-end solutions, application programming interfaces and data exchange tools when it launched in 2015. Since then, it’s supported hundreds of projects out of the Federal Citizen Services Fund, and now it’s emphasizing the citizen, public-facing aspect.

“We are tech agnostic,” says Will Cahoe, communications lead with 10x. “We want to focus on sourcing problems and opportunities and let the solutions emerge throughout the normal software development and research processes.”

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10x Wants Civil Servants’ ‘Moonshot’ Ideas

While 10x accepts project submissions on a rolling basis, the deadline for its latest funding round is 11:59 p.m. EST on Nov. 30.

The suggested project themes are equity in delivery (to right past wrongs and “bring more fairness” to public service) and reimagining public engagement (to improve government responsiveness to community concerns in digital spaces), Cahoe says. Submissions don’t need to align to either theme, though.

More important, Cahoe says, is that civil servants submit “moonshot” ideas that are “so big, so bold, so ambitious that everyone would be excited.” is such an idea, allowing federal job applicants to receive status updates on where they are in the process in real time.

“We’re used to that in the private sector,” Cahoe says. “Government isn’t doing that so much.”

10x handed the project off to a team that’s currently looking for agency partners that want to send notifications more broadly.

A phase-one 10x project viewed as another moonshot is inclusive recreation, the idea of making the country’s natural public spaces more accessible to people with disabilities.

“What if all of America's natural public spaces could be enjoyed by absolutely everyone, and everyone — regardless of their need, ability or location — had the tools to find a way to engage with public spaces and parks?” Cahoe asks. “That's a new idea of public engagement.”

Will Cahoe, communications lead, 10x
We’re not in the business of long-term software ownership and maintenance. We always want the things that we're developing to live on somewhere else.”

Will Cahoe Communications Lead, 10x

10x Projects Need a Permanent Home, Sometimes with Industry

Submissions need only be about three sentences or 1,000 characters — no project plan necessary — and submitters can be as involved as they’d like in the creative process, should their idea be chosen. 10x typically selects 10 to 20 ideas out of several hundred each year to fund, which will happen in early 2024.

A project can run up to four phases, with funding going to 10x’s designers and engineers undertaking the work; it’s not a grant. Projects that lose promise or go off the rails won’t advance to the next phase of funding.

“We’re not in the business of long-term software ownership and maintenance,” Cahoe says. “We always want the things that we're developing to live on somewhere else.”

Sometimes, the most sustainable place for a project or product to continue is with an industry partner, he adds.

An example of this is 10x’s growing portfolio of language access and translation projects; it’s investing in a way for translation professionals across agencies to standardize how government content is translated on websites. Languages such as Spanish have multiple dialects, resulting in different translations of agencies’ websites, particularly in the fields of law enforcement and healthcare.

10x wants to create a platform of sorts for canonical glossaries, with healthcare as the first use case, Cahoe says. But rather than building that platform from scratch, phase two of the project involved issuing a request for information from industry on existing commercial tools that could be employed.

“We actually have heard back from some industry folks, some of whom have said, ‘Hey, we have a thing already that can do this for you,’” Cahoe says. “And I think what's even cooler is that some have actually said, ‘Hey, you know, we don't have anything like this, but we can do it for you.’”

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