The 10x program at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is excited to announce 25 brand new projects we’ll be funding at the Phase One Investigation level this year. We started with a pool of nearly 200 ideas and whittled them down to the handful of projects we feel have the greatest potential to deliver transformative impact for the public. Here’s how we got there, some observations we made, and next steps.
The Evaluation Process
We make it a top priority to ensure that projects are scored and evaluated fairly. During evaluations, the names and agency affiliations are excluded from the proposals to guarantee projects are evaluated purely based on merit.
In addition, we continued the practice of placing an advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) on our evaluation panel. This panel member’s job was to examine our proposals through a specific DEIA lens and ask challenging questions during the evaluation deliberations: does this idea take into account the needs of underserved populations? Could this project do harm if done without thought and intention? We believe that government technology projects need to reflect the needs and lived experiences of the American public, and our DEIA advocate was critical in raising concerns and opportunities we may otherwise have missed.
Proposals were evaluated against four criteria:
- Clarity: Does the proposal clearly define a problem, an affected group, and a hypothesis for government-wide applicability?
- Alignment: Does the proposal align with 10x, GSA, and government-wide priorities?
- Impact: Could the proposed solution deliver a significant impact for the public?
- Feasibility: Could the funding and resources that 10x has at our disposal make a significant impact in this problem space?
Here’s a breakdown of where our ideas came from. Our goal is to spread the opportunity to submit ideas to 10x to as wide an audience of civil servants as possible. This round, we were thrilled to see that the portion of ideas we received and funded from outside agencies was the highest yet.
Distribution of GSA & Outside Agencies:
Figure 1: Ideas We Evaluated. A round donut chart shows the percentages for submitted ideas. GSA employees, shown in lavender, accounted for 18.8 percent of submissions; the remaining 81.2 percent, shown in purple, were submissions from federal employees outside of GSA.
Figure 2: Projects We Approved. A round donut chart shows the percentages for selected ideas. Non-GSA employees, shown in purple, accounted for 69.2 percent of the selected ideas; the remaining 30.8 percent, shown in lavender, were from GSA employees.
The 10x Take
Here are a few trends from this round of idea evaluations we’d like to highlight:
- Doubling Down. Folks who have followed 10x projects over the years may have noticed that some of our new projects sound a lot like some previous projects we’ve funded. This is intentional. There are a few areas within govtech [government tech] that are so big, so important, and so exciting that we feel it’s worth having multiple bets on the table. We see value in having different teams explore similar problem spaces with different approaches. Good examples include our new projects on transparency in AI algorithms and secure data storage for benefits applicants.
- Shoot for the moon. When we evaluate ideas, we aim for a mix of projects in terms of complexity, feasibility, riskiness, and reward. We take on some projects because we believe we can execute them fully—other projects really give us pause. They make us nervous. We don’t know how far we’ll be able to take them. But these projects tend to be the ones that we feel could truly deliver massive, transformative impact for the government and the public, so we accept that risk. These are projects we call moonshot ideas; dream big, or go home. This year’s moonshot ideas tackle behemoth subjects in government technology, from Privacy-preserving record linkage (PPRL)-as-a-Service to visualizing the code of federal regulations.
- Justice and Tech. We had three investment themes this round that we were targeting: digital responses to climate challenges, reimagining public engagement, and equity in delivery. Each of these themes have something in common: delivering justice for the public. Take a look at the list of projects, we hope you’ll see–and be inspired by–the connection between technology innovation and justice.
The next step is for us to get our projects staffed by talented technologists who can bring these ideas to life. Once we get the right folks in place, we’ll kick-off Phase 1 Investigation sprints. In these sprints, our project teams will identify blockers, validate ideas, understand the problem space, and recommend whether or not an idea should be pursued further. For more information about the 10x process, please visit 10x.gsa.gov/the-10x-process/.
We don’t yet know when we’ll be evaluating ideas again, but we accept ideas on a rolling basis, 24 hours, seven days a week through our website. If you have an idea for how to improve the public’s experience with the federal government through technology, you can submit your idea anytime. Here are a few guidelines to help craft your pitch.
Questions to Consider:
- What is the problem or opportunity?
- Who is impacted?
- What is a possible solution?
We have observed [problem or opportunity]. We believe that if we [do this that it will result in this benefit] for [this group of people].