LAB 736 IS IMPROVING THE TECHNOLOGY OF DEMOCRATIC STATE PARTIES

We are a team of technologists and former campaign staff working on a simple proposition: to improve the technology stack of the Democratic Party. 

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We are first addressing the technology infrastructure of Democratic state parties. We do this by working alongside the state party in 2-3 week sprints, identifying ways to improve efficiency, online security, and cost savings in their day-to-day operations

We are combining our experiences fixing tech in government to fixing tech for the state parties. 

The Problem

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We are addressing Democratic State Parties first because they are the front lines of the Democratic Party. 

They are responsible for recruiting candidates, training local volunteers, and strategizing effective campaigns. The state parties contain invaluable local knowledge and possess the expertise and networks needed to win. 

Unfortunately, they have not typically kept up with the latest innovations in data and technology. 

In a rapidly changing digital environment, the Democratic Party has to evolve its approach to tech, security, data, and user engagement. State Parties need better infrastructure to execute.

In the business of politics, votes are the bottom line and winning is profit. With less time spent on day-to-day operational tasks, I’m free to focus on the work that gets results — recruiting candidates and giving them the tools they need to win.
— - Lavora Barnes, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Democratic Party

Currently, State Parties have either very few or no technologists on their staff, and contract much of their tech work to 3rd party vendors. The tools they use are rarely updated, often outdated, and we know there are a number of custom built systems that require continual maintenance or are not in line with current available technology. They are also in need of a technology security audit.

Local Democratic Staff can be using the kind of tech tools available to the private sector to optimize their use of time and money in a secure way.

The technology exists. State Parties do not currently have access to it or know how to deploy it.

What We Do

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Lab 736 is heavily influenced by the the United States Digital Service - an emergency response team of private sector technologists recruited by President Obama’s White House to help prevent mission critical technology failures across our government. Many of our team members come from USDS and because of their experience with the Federal Government, are uniquely equipped to deliver within bureaucracies. 

We recruit experienced technologists from the private and civic sector, embedding them with Democratic State Parties for intensive discovery periods to determine what is and isn’t working. Then we work with them to fix their systems and processes, cutting costs, improving efficiencies, and building stronger, more effective organizations.

Throughout each deployment, Lab 736 serves as a feedback loop to ensure that our on-the-ground findings are improving how tech is developed and deployed across the progressive landscape. It is not just State Parties who benefit from this approach.

We are a not-for-profit organization that works explicitly with the Democratic Party.

A Lab 736 Deployment

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Week 1-2: Discovery

3-5 experts deploy to a State Democratic Party to uncover challenges and identify necessary infrastructure improvements. They conduct interviews with leadership, staff, volunteers, contractors, vendors, the local technology ecosystem, and the political community about how technology is developed and used, and what systems could be improved with better tech.

Week 3: Report

Lab 736 team delivers a report and recommendations to the Party Leadership and prioritizes based on strategic plans and staffing/budget constraints.

Week 4-7: Resolution/Improvement

Lab 736 works with the Party to resolve the issues identified during discovery. This is done both remotely and with teams returning to the Party to work with staff, conduct additional interviews, provide trainings, or work with hardware or infrastructure.

Ongoing

With every deployment we learn more about what is needed and what can be done to improve tools and trainings for other State Parties and the DNC, and upgrade the entire democratic structure simultaneously.

 

Team

 

Collectively, we have rebooted the State Dept visa system after a 2 week failure, relaunched healthcare.gov after the crash, set up innovation teams to address the Ebola crisis, and worked with 200+ candidates and campaigns.

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Eric Maland, co-founder

Eric Maland has spent more than two decades writing software, designing scalable systems, and building engineering teams at early-stage startups such as Amazon.com, Google, and Twitter. In 2014 he turned his focus to civic service and moved to the White House to help stabilize several systems across several federal agencies, including healthcare.gov and the visa system.

 
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Kate Gage, Co-founder

Kate Gage has spent nearly the last decade working in the Obama Administration on the intersection between technology and global challenges. Most recently she worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, co-founded the Global Development Lab at USAID where she led the use of tech and data for the Ebola response, and spent 11 months on the 2008 Obama Campaign. In 2015, she spent 3 months in West Africa doing user centric design with the USAID staff to increase their adoption of technology. She holds a BA from Dartmouth.

 

Liz Jaff, Co-founder and Advisor

Liz Jaff works at the intersection of politics and technology and and is dedicated to breaking down barriers of entry for candidates to run for office. Formerly VP of Business Development for Crowdpac.Inc, Jaff is a Veteran Organizer of the Obama '07, '08 and '12 campaigns and ran John Delaney's (MD-06) re-election in 2014. Jaff worked at the White House, Department of Commerce and U.S. Agency for International Development, sits on the board of Netroots Foundation and serves as an appointee on the DNC Transition Team after her run for DNC Vice Chair.


Advisors

Lavora Barnes, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Democratic Party

Phaedra Chrousos, Former Commissioner for the Technology Transformation Service at GSA

Mikey Dickerson, Former Administrator, U.S. Digital Service

Todd Park, Former White House Chief Technology Officer

Deepti Rohatgi, Policy Director, Slack

Megan Smith, Former White House Chief Technology Officer, Former Director, Google

Nicole Wong, Former Deputy US Chief Technology Officer

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Join us as we expand to other Democratic State Parties

-  Are you a designer, engineer or project manager? Deploy to a State Party for a discovery sprint. As we confirm future deployments, we will reach out to our roster of technologists, project managers, designers, engineers, etc to build a team. We will also build teams that include local talent.

- Can't travel, but have skills? Remotely support a team.  Following the delivery of the report, we will build teams to deliver on the recommendations, and some of these projects will be able to be done remotely.

- Help us expand to our next State Party. Each discovery sprint costs between $50-100k, which includes deployment of security and basic infrastructure improvements. Further work - custom database build out, website support, volunteer management systems, etc - may cost up to an additional $100k. We are raising funds to expand now.

If you would like to donate, the easiest way is to use our ActBlue Page

If you would like to use a wire transfer or check, let us know and we will send our banking information. 

Please contact us using the form below or by emailing contact@lab736.com

Thank you!

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