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We’re launching an Accelerator to test incremental investment

In countries making significant progress with digital government, work with the private sector is an important part of the puzzle. Government can’t do it alone. Contracting helps scale modern technology and design methods across the public sector. Businesses bring specialized expertise, flexible surge capacity, scale, and experience with the cutting edge of technology and practice.

But too often, good companies and good public sector ideas can’t find each other. In 2017, we travelled to 20 cities across Canada to talk with people about the potential for digital government.

“One thing we heard was that “existing procurement practices [are] preventing small scale, iterative development with the private sector and making it difficult for start-ups and non-traditional players to work with government.”

Scale, complexity, and the absence of modularity aren’t simply barriers to smaller players. They increase the risk of wasted IT spending, vendor lock-in, and products that are delayed and don’t meet user needs. The demand for up-front requirements and certainty that is typical of waterfall approaches can also make it hard for small but mighty ideas to see the light of day internally.

We’re excited to take a run at these problems.

CDS is launching an incremental investment fund

The fund will finance, test, and help deliver public servants’ ideas for high-impact products or services. It will open up opportunities for smaller companies and not-for-profits to access the procurement process by breaking projects into smaller chunks. We plan to use the same service development phases that we use in delivery work, but outside organizations will do the designing and building. Results will be assessed at each phase to determine whether work and funding should continue.

Think of it as an accelerator for service improvement.

Incremental investment is not a new concept in the public sector. CDS is learning how to build successful programs from other government funds, such as the U.S. 10x fund and the U.K. GovTech Catalyst.

We’re excited about the potential to demystify procurement for digital delivery and test agile-friendly budgeting in the federal government.

We plan to start small — quite small — to test a few elements of this over the coming months before we look to scale our procurement and idea-sourcing efforts. We’ll continue to work in the open and share our experiences, so look for updates here and on Twitter.

Have thoughts or want to help? We’d love to hear from you, by e-mail, on Twitter, or otherwise.