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Leaving 18F

Julia Elman in front of the entrance to the West Wing, The White House

In March 2015, I went to New York City to co-work with my new colleagues at the then-budding 18F NYC location (also referred to as “the beige”). We went out for lunch and talked about all our ideas for transforming government digital services and planting the seeds of change.

I started my tenure at 18F by designing and building the infrastructure for two projects I’m incredibly proud of: the U.S. Web Design Standards and Pulse. Each of these projects helped make it more possible for U.S. government agencies to build usable, well-structured, and secure digital services They’ve ignited conversations about best practices for building web applications, and have become tools and guidelines for implementing impactful change far beyond 18F. Over 100 agencies have used the Standards on websites and applications. And since the launch of Pulse, HTTPS compliance has increased by 118 percent. I am so proud of this work and of the people I have had the privilege to work alongside on both these projects.

And that’s just the thing: it’s the people throughout the federal government I have collaborated with, had virtual teas with, laughed, cried, and bonded with through these past few years that has made an impact on me in return. Working alongside these brave and kind individuals has reflected back to me my own bravery and driven home how much we, as technologists, are capable of doing.

Today is my last day at 18F. And while I could use the metaphor of seeds of change, I feel like we accomplished more than just the planting. We built a forest, and it’s denser and more full of life than I could have expected back when we were thinking about the seeds.