The first day of FWD50 is devoted to deep-dive workshops that focus on critical elements of digital government.

Moving to Digital Government

With: Alistair Croll, Kent Aitken, Gabe Sawhney, Siim Sikkut, Pia Waugh, James Stewart
Location: Main stage
Full Day: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Description: If code is law, then government is a computer. As a result, there are few industries more likely to be fundamentally disrupted by the digital revolution than government. In this all-day workshop, FWD50 founder and Harvard Lecturer Alistair Croll and New Zealand’s Government Service Integration Lead Pia Waugh lead a packed lineup of experts considering every facet of digital transformation.

In addition to Alistair and Pia, presenters include:

  • Ramy Nassar, Quarry
  • Siim Sikkut, Government CIO of Estonia
  • Meghan Hellstern and Gabe Sawhney, Code for Canada
  • Kent Aitken, Public Policy Forum
  • James Stewart, Independent technology consultant, former Deputy CTO for the UK Government

 We’ll tackle existing biases and preconceived notions: What norms do people carry subconsciously? What antiquated or unnecessary prejudices people bring to new technology? How does digital government embrace being a resilient node in the network? How does it find new ways to work with people? And above all, in what new ways does it need to work with people in order to succeed?

Over the course of the day, we’ll cover a wide range of topics:

  • Design thinking, analytics, and data-driven innovation
  • Accessibility, security, digital identity
  • The cultural and procedural changes needed for government to survive, adapt, and thrive
  • The nature of civic innovation
  • Co-operation between municipal, provincial, and federal governments, and between public and private sectors.

Participants will get a sense of what digital government is, where it’s headed, and what the pitfalls and opportunities are. We’ll learn what works in digital leaders such as New Zealand and Estonia, and tackle critical topics such as digital inclusion, design thinking, and analytics. This workshop is designed to prepare public sector workers for the coming move to digital government. 

Becoming Agile & turning “how” into “why”

With: Daniel J. Murphy, Craig Szelestowski, Ellen Grove, Glenn Waters
Location: Breakout stage 1
Half Day: 9:00am – 12:30pm
Description: This workshop is a combination of small lessons interlaced with collaborative workshop exercises to drive experiential learning. The session objective is to provide an overview of current-state thinking and culture as it relates to how we approach problems at the personal, project, and organizational level.

The workshop will provide and understanding of current state waterfall approaches, an introduction to Agile thinking and methods, with particular focus on leadership approaches, managing teams and developing organizational Agile strategy.

All session facilitators have considerable experience coaching and implementing Agile initiatives in the Federal Government, as well as private sector. The session will be present and introduce Agile in the context of public sector, with pragmatic examples of how it can be successfully adopted and implemented.


Being a better buyer, and a better seller

With: Andre Leduc
Location: Breakout stage 3
Half Day: 9:00am – 12:30pm
Description: What can vendors do to work better with the government? And how can the government change the ways it procures so the best solution gets into the hands of citizens quickly? These questions are the elephant in the room of many IT projects—and this workshop looks at how to address them. In a unique format combining the private and public sector, we’ll examine changes to procurement and procedure, the balance between DIY and off-the-shelf solutions, and how to ensure the right product or service bets built without creating expensive one-time services that can’t be maintained or scaled.

Questions our presenters will respond to:

1. How can government be a better buyer?
2. How can the private sector be a better seller / provider?
3. What new processes (open/agile procurement, bidding on problems rather than licenses) exist?
4. How does on-demand (clouds) change procurement?
5. Why shouldn’t Government treat SaaS the way they treat battleships?
6.What are the major barriers to suppliers preventing them from selling to the government?
7. How do we make procurement about the best solution that will be supported for a long time, while not excluding smaller players?
8. How do we focus procurement on providing a needed solution to deliver a service, rather than buying technology?
9. When does government build things that compete with the private sector? (Parking apps, tax filing tools) How does this affect the public/private sector dynamic?
10. What are some of the best practices that exist in other large public sector organizations?

Participants will get a sense of what current roadblocks to federal procurement exist, where procurement is headed (e.g. Agile), and what sore points continue to hinder both the buyers and sellers. Speakers will provide examples of new tools and procurement procedures, best practices in other public sectors and will explore how to develop procurements where both SMEs and multinational corporations can compete in fair, open and transparent processes. 


Data Science in Government: Promises and Pitfalls

With: Derek Ruths
Location: Breakout stage 2
Half Day: 9:00am – 12:30pm
Description: There’s no avoiding it: data science is a big part of the future of government. There’s a lot to be gained. But that doesn’t mean the transition will be easy or without tradeoffs. This half-day workshop provides a critical introduction to data science and examines the promises of and challenges to adopting data science and data-informed decision making in government.
Panel 1: Using data science to set priorities
Panel 2: Using data science to improve efficiency
Panel 3: Open data, analysis, and transparency


Government and Artificial Intelligence

Presented by: Element AI
Location: Breakout stage 2
Half Day: 1:30pm – 5:00pm
Whether you call it machine learning, automation, or artificial intelligence, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that machine-generated software is going to alter every aspect of society. Some say AI is a demon, here to destroy ethics and jobs; others see it as a panacea, ready to save us from ourselves. The reality is more nuanced, and the future is more likely a form of computer-in-the-loop humanity, augmenting us all. But with that prediction come important questions: How do we fight bias in training data, to make sure machines don’t amplify our worst instincts? How do we ensure augmentation is available to all? How do we test and experiment responsibly? Where is AI most useful — and where should we avoid it? In this half-day workshop led by Element AI we’ll explore the challenges ahead and the leading thinking on how to confront them.

Government plays an important role in helping set the rules of the game that keep this technology advancing, while avoiding scenarios where only a few groups hold most of the power. Rewriting regulation to cover all the affected domains is just too big of a task in the timeline that government has to catch up with the technology. Government will need to rely at least in part on design principles for a new high-level framework with which to judge the current law as legislation catches up

Topics covered in the session will include:

  • Ethics for research in AI and its applications to inform policy
  • Understanding privacy and a shifting social contract
  • Data governance and building secure systems
  • Information vs. data vs. intelligence
  • Rethinking intellectual property
  • Preventing an arms race


Moving from Technologist to a Digital Enabler: Daring, Dreaming, Doing

With: Ryan Androsoff, Isabelle Perreault, Julie Leese
Location: Breakout stage 1
Half Day: 1:30pm – 5:00pm
Description: Facilitated by Ryan Androsoff, an international expert on digital government and a passionate advocate for the increased and effective use of social media, collaborative technologies, and open data in the public sector, our panel will showcase Digital Leaders from public and private sectors, academia and the privacy domain who will come together to share what’s on their Digital Horizon and how they are preparing to lead; whether it be through developing the necessary skills within their teams, by empowering their people, or by implementing concrete initiatives. Following Q&A time with the audience, a foresight and knowledge organization within the federal public service, will share their fwd 50 months digital projections and facilitate breakout sessions with delegates towards identifying digital opportunities in a rapidly changing and complex world. Delegates will walk away with a new lens focused on identifying digital breakthrough opportunities and identifying what concrete actions could be taken to move us along that path to being digital enablers.


Application Migration – Lift – Shift – Drop It Off a Cliff

With: Chrystina Chudczak, Steven Woodward, CCSK, CFPS, CSQA
Location: Breakout stage 3
Half Day: 1:30pm – 5:00pm
Description: Demands that governments become more agile, responsive, and digital rely on an underlying infrastructure that’s up to the task. With the recent adoption of cloud computing models, we finally have the platform needed for these changes. In this half-day workshop, Steven Woodward leads attendees through the challenges of cloud migration, with hard questions about costs, timeframes, and risks. From testing to architecture, platform selection to risk assessment, this is an essential background on the move to on-demand computing that will be the basis of digital government for coming decades.