This year's program: A captivating blend of important topics

Published On Sep 18, 2023

Since 2017, FWD50 has tackled many of the most vital topics in public sector innovation. From emerging technologies like cloud computing and AI, to policy issues such as digital identity and accessibility, to cultural changes like Agile delivery and work-from-home, each year’s themes reflect what’s front-of-mind with government and civic tech.

2023 is no exception. And there’s plenty to discuss. Here are just some of the topics you’ll be learning about this November:

  • Swimming upstream: For decades, designing public sector services has flowed in only one direction: Politicians create legislation, which executives turn into policy that employees implement. Those closest to the delivery—and most likely to identify problems—have little choice but to do what they’re told. But digital systems change the economics of service delivery, making experimentation and iteration possible. How do we harness the wisdom of the edges, and use it to learn and improve policies, and even laws, for the modern age?

  • Modularization, scalability, and how to handle complexity: As we covered in this blog post, the bigger a system becomes, the more energy it consumes maintaining itself. And there are few systems bigger than government itself. Building things out of smaller, repeatable systems fixes this predicament.

  • A user-first approach: Governments often design services in their own image, forcing residents and citizens to navigate structures that don’t make sense. Why else isn’t there a single portal through which they can see their entire life, and every interaction they have with their government? Designing for the user first upends traditional approaches.

  • Communications and crisis: Technology speeds up every aspect of government, including how fast it can break. Nobody wants things to go wrong, but when they do, clear, timely communication and transparency can build trust, coordinate efforts, and make all the difference.

  • Retaining and developing talent: There’s lots to be done, but morale’s at an all-time low. Turning technology into services takes talent, but government’s not just competing with the private sector. It’s also facing a crisis of public sentiment, widespread burnout, and post-pandemic cultural change. We’ll explore smart strategies for finding—and keeping—the best.

But FWD50 isn’t just learning. There are workshops on assessing digital skills, putting AI to work, recruiting, agile procurement and even subversive topics like hacking bureaucracy and (constructive) sabotage! And we’ve packed the schedule with networking, meetups, and stage takeovers from civic tech and regional government groups.

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