An Open Invitation to Collaborate

CivicActions would like to extend an open invitation to all bidders on the California Health and Human Services Agile Development Pre-Qualified Vendor Pool (RFI #75001).

We are competitors but in the spirit of fiercely open cooperation, we would like to offer introductions to current California foster parents who may be able to provide help building a better response and prototype.

Although the old custom would be to isolate our work from other bidders on the same request for information, we default to open. Our highest mission is a better government and healthy competition can helps us grow stronger. We invite your cooperation by offering you our code, design artifacts, learnings and surmises, and our users.

In modern Agile and Lean software development methodologies, nothing is more important than focusing on the user.

blog-fosterclubWe are honored to have a long-term relationship with FosterClub. FosterClub is a nonprofit organization that has been serving foster youth across the country since 2000. They are building a movement to connect young people in foster care so they can improve their own lives, improve outcomes for their peers, and elevate their voice to reform the U.S. foster care system. They serve young people across the nation and have over 100,000 members –  many which reside in California. CivicActions reached out to FosterClub for introductions to foster parents so that we could get real foster parents for feedback on our prototype.

We received more parents who offered to provide feedback than we’re able to currently handle. We would be happy to inquire whether any of those parents are willing to assist in your prototyping activities.

In addition to and with the assistance of actual foster parents from FosterClub, we have made additional progress on this RFI that you are welcome to reuse:

GitHub Repo

Our in-progress GitHub repo contains all of our thoughts and work.

CivicActions Journal

Our journal tells the story of our work. The repo includes UX sketches, our interview scripts, interviews, and our open source code.

Existing Prototype

We rapidly prototyped the use of the application programming interface called out by the RFI and integrated it with MapBox. This is a starting point for building a more usable system for “respite and dropoff” location. The code is only 166 lines of HTML and javascript.


Finally, we would also like to offer you our greatest learning: The RFI does not necessarily ask for what foster parents are telling us they want.

This creates a tension: should we build the app the users want, or follow the RFI? Our approach has been to compromise, and to make sure that we are doing what the RFI requests while trying as best we can in limited time to build something that would actually be useful to our users.

In the spirit of open collaboration, if you would like us to introduce you to the parents who have volunteered to offer feedback, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you.


2017-03-31T06:19:54+00:00 Categories: Agile, California, Nonprofit|Tags: |

About the Author:

Henry Poole co-founded CivicActions in 2004 and was appointed CEO in 2014. Henry is responsible for advising clients undertaking innovation and transformation, participates in business development, and oversees the management team.

Henry has recently advised on the turnaround of a large scale, multi-vendor DOD Drupal project as well as the launch of a new platform for the San Francisco Human Services Agency. Prior to consulting for CivicActions government clients, he advised on the launch of numerous very successful campaigns including Defective by Design for the Free Software Foundation, and 170 Million Americans for American Public Media. 170 Million Americans was launched within 30 days of kickoff, included aligning stakeholders from dozens of public media companies, and resulted in a 53% membership conversion rate on the new website.

Henry has more than 30 years experience in information technology innovation, organizational transformation and strategic management. Henry founded one of the first Internet Agencies in 1993, led a French free and open source company to outsell Redhat retail in the US in 2001, and launched the first blog for a US congressman in 2003.

Henry serves on the boards of several technology companies as well as the Free Software Foundation.