Letter from the team

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Year Seven of the 10x Impact Report. For those reading for the first time, our goal is simple: showcase the impact that the 10x program has delivered for the American public and the federal government over the last fiscal year (FY).

This report will cover a lot of ground, but we're using this letter to let you in on a few things we're doing differently. Since our first impact report, we've been the ones telling you about all the great things we delivered. But this year, we've decided to look outside our own program for a perspective on how we deliver value. We'll share two letters written by our Idea Authors and partners that talk about their experience with 10x. We hope that hearing from others will add valuable color to our own discussion of the value 10x provides.

There's also been something brewing behind the scenes that we're very excited about. This year, we reflected on where we are as a program and where we want to be in a few years. We'll touch on this more at the end of this report, but for now, we want to underline that the whole 10x team remains committed to innovating in the pursuit of public good. That means taking big bold risks, and FY23 set us on a path to do exactly that. It was the year of looking into the future to see what we want to become, and we'll talk about some of the changes we're open to in FY24. We are thrilled for what's coming up, and we hope you'll be following along with us.

The 10x Team

FY23 in review

Our investment strategy

Each year, we identify investment areas to help steer our investments pipeline. These are often areas where we either have an established record of success, or move us toward a new area of exploration we want to pursue. We call these investment themes, and in FY23 our investment themes were Digital Foundations and Equity in Delivery.

With the Digital Foundations theme, we wanted to fund investments for digital innovations to support the country's massive new investments in physical infrastructure. Equity in Delivery investments cover topics of justice, access, and using tech to help those most in need. Equity is an investment theme we return to again and again, and where we've found success. We expect to double-down on this portfolio of investments again in FY24.

Sometimes an idea reflects both of our investment themes. A good example of this is an idea we received called "De-Biasing Public Infrastructure Investments." The observation of this investment is that government investments in public infrastructure do not always take into account possible negative effects that these investments can have on local populations, and in particular, vulnerable communities. For example, a city might build a much-needed highway, but in a way that divides a lower-income neighborhood and displaces residents.

The Idea Author's hypothesis was that 10x could deliver value by researching and, if necessary, delivering a new digital capability that ensures underrepresented populations have the opportunity and platform to provide input into the planning and prioritization of new infrastructure investments. We felt the impact we would deliver in the event that the problem was both significant and technically-solvable was worth the investment of Phase 1 resources.

In our Phase 1 research, we learned that the problem is real and not everyone has equitable access to new infrastructure, or a strong voice in naming infrastructure priorities. We also learned this is not an unknown problem and there are many resources and efforts at the federal and local levels to address this issue. For example, recent Executive Orders and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) instruct federal agencies to emphasize equity across all investments.

Even though this area has significant potential, we ultimately elected not to proceed with Phase 2 of this investment due to the risk of duplicating existing and promising efforts. Based on our Phase 1 investigation into the idea, we did not see a slam-dunk path for 10x to add value in the space of infrastructure equity. If 10x were to revisit this investment in the future, the Phase 1 team suggests focusing on specific case studies and examining how investments impact specific underprivileged groups, rather than looking for meta-solutions.

Other bets we placed

We funded 18 brand new Phase 1 investments this year – 17 of which aligned with at least one of our two investment themes.

Here are two good examples of investments we funded that align with our investment priorities:

Resources for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

The idea

More than 650,000 people are released from prison every year, but studies show that the recidivism rate is at nearly 66 percent. While many government agencies offer guidance for the formerly incarcerated, we believe this issue is so high profile in society today that it warrants further exploration by 10x.

For example, we have observed that there is no centralized, government-led resource for formerly incarcerated individuals to learn about reentry services, social safety net programs, or record expungement - services that help keep people out of the prison system. 10x will explore current government offerings in this space and investigate creating a centralized resource to help support both individuals leaving prison and the network of local and national nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting their reentry.

Why bet on this?

We bet big on equity-centered tech to help people who need it most, and we chose this investment because it fits perfectly within that portfolio. We saw in this idea an opportunity to help thousands of people who leave prison and jails, a disproportionate amount of whom are minority and low-income, successfully move back into society.


  • About two in three people who are released from prison will be rearrested within three years of their release.
  • The recidivism rate is much higher for people with low education levels and limited access to affordable housing and healthcare.
  • There are several pre-existing resources and approaches that prioritize empowerment and collaboration among local organizations.
How it went

Early on, our Phase 1 team learned that there are resources that are already available and often designed to accommodate the nuanced structures and jurisdictions of state and municipal governments. We also learned that most people incarcerated in the country end up there through state and local justice systems, not federal.

Learning this was a signal to our team that this investment may not be the best place for 10x to operate.

First, 10x is a federal program. Our ability to work with and help at the state and local government levels is limited. This meant that the beneficiaries and users of a solution we develop would need to be scoped solely to those who have interacted with the federal prison systems. But this is only 10% of the entire target population — not a sizable percentage.

Second, the fact that there are several existing resources and organizations working in this space suggests that reentry resource access may not be a key issue in helping people avoid recidivism. Anything 10x tried to do could be duplicative. And because many of those resources are from local organizations, they are likely better suited to address the distinctions within each community better than the federal government.

All of this made moving to Phase 2 feel risky, and creating a centralized resource to support formerly incarcerated individuals at the federal level might be unfeasible and/or unnecessary. Ultimately, we decided not to move forward.

But at 10x we love celebrating "No" – investments that produce great research and insights, but that don't result in a recommendation for a new product or service. We view closing unpromising investments and sharing the learnings as a win. So even though we did not move this forward, we do not count this as a failure.

Of course, we did find some resounding "Yes" investments as well. Here's a good example from FY23:

Digital Access to Justice Platform (formerly known as Transparency in Fines and Fees)

The idea

Many people owe fines and fees to the federal government, often amounts that are initially less than $50, such as co-payments to the Veterans Health Administration, late fees associated with loan repayments, etc. If left unpaid, these accrue over time and across agencies when people do not realize what they owe, costing the government and taxpayers valuable time and money.

10x will explore ways to compile data on fees owed to agencies, such as a personal dashboard or notifications capability that offers visibility into fees owed to the government with links to repayment or forbearance options. This could reduce indebtedness, increase satisfaction with government services, and reduce time on call centers.

Why bet on this?

"Digital Access to Justice Platform" is a great example of how the 10x process embraces change. Our teams have the freedom to recommend pivots from original directions when new paths of delivering impact emerge over the course of a given phase. Consider a hypothetical but realistic use case: a member of the public who needs to file a petition for a restraining order with the court can't complete that task, because the forms and processes needed to do so are designed and written for attorneys. The vast majority of petitioners do not have an attorney or other legal representation, and while they can file the petition themselves, the process itself imposes burdens that may delay or interfere with taking this legal action to protect themselves. Making a difference by simplified, guided form completion for people in these types of situations is exactly the type of impact 10x is proud to pursue.


  • The initial hypothesis – a dashboard or a notification system for fines and fees – is unlikely to solve the problem or increase satisfaction with government services, and it would introduce significant privacy and interagency data sharing challenges.
  • Most form-related products within the civil legal system were designed with lawyers in mind as the intended user base. However, a growing portion of that user base is non-legal professionals, and the public who often lack any kind of representation. This is a big problem.
  • This space is ripe with opportunity and filled with enthusiastic stakeholders working towards the same goal. The team found engaged collaborators and potential partners.
How it's going

The initial idea focused on resolving fines and fees that didn't feel like a winning bet for 10x. But the team did find an opportunity to help in a different way, which was to improve the digital experience people have with the justice system.

The new opportunity in this space that our team will be pursuing in Phase 3 during FY24 addresses a problem that our team uncovered in earlier phases: that "justice forms" are designed for lawyers, while the majority of people who interact with the system are not lawyers, nor have lawyers to represent them.

The first use case within the court system is to deliver shared technology for facilitating online interviews for members of the public seeking legal redress. If successful, we'll deliver impact by helping people assemble the documents they need to advocate for themselves within the justice system, and eventually scale to other public interactions with the government.

FY23 wins

Benefits Locator Tool

Last time you heard about this investment, it was a 10x investment called the "Benefits Eligibility Awareness Resource Service" (BEARS), and it had just graduated from Phase 4 of our pipeline. Today it's a fully operational product transitioned to a new home at USA.gov, which will iterate, improve, own, and sustain the product moving forward.

Benefits.gov Discovery

In collaboration with the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and USA.gov, the 10x team led a discovery effort to develop a notional roadmap for a "Federal Front Door" where customers can locate actionable information on the benefits, services, and programs the federal government offers.

Automated Security Authorization Processing (ASAP)

10x partnered with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP®) to strengthen and automate their compliance checklist. It increases FedRAMP's capacity to meet governmentwide demand for secure cloud services.

Celebrating "No"

As is typical for any impact report, we want to highlight the body and breadth of our work, and showcase select 10x investments in FY23. But, unlike typical impact reports, we also want to call attention to the investments we've said "No" to.

At 10x, we celebrate "No." Saying "No" is an expression of why our approach to funding ideas, investments, and products works. If we can't justify spending time and money on an investment, we stop funding it. And, in fact, we've said "No" more times than we've said "Yes." But it means that we are shifting our resources to the investments and products that show the biggest potential, the biggest impact.

So, yes. We celebrate "No."

Making waves

This is the "Don't take our word for it" section. We want you to hear directly from the folks outside GSA who interact with 10x projects in one way or another. That's our Idea Authors, users, product owners, agency champions, and the people who wear multiple hats simultaneously or interchangeably.

Here are stories from two individuals who devoted time to working with 10x project teams in FY23, in their own words. Without engaged partners like Carey and Connie on our side, 10x can't deliver the impact we're really after. For their enthusiasm and hard work we are tremendously grateful.

Carey's story

I submitted the idea for the project Improving Response and Tracking of Sewer Spills during the FY22 round of idea evaluation. And I worked with 10x across its lifecycle before it concluded after Phase Two.

I help EPA and state inspectors collaborate through EPA's National Targeting Center, which focuses on improving their inspection and enforcement using innovative online tools (many of which are available through EPA public-facing system called ECHO). I also help implement an EPA rulemaking that requires Clean Water Act (CWA) permittees and regulators to use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the CWA permit program instead of filing written reports.

I submitted to 10x because I was looking for a way to jumpstart EPA's implementation of CWA electronic reporting for sewer spill reports. Sewage treatment plants submit these reports when there is an unexpected release of sewage from the sewer collection system. I also wanted to help make these data accessible and usable for EPA and state inspectors and the general public. Each year there are tens of thousands of sewer spills that negatively affect communities by polluting their environments and homes. Switching to electronic reporting and standardizing this noncompliance reporting will help EPA and states provide more effective and efficient oversight. It will also provide transparency to the public on the locations of frequent sewer spills, including if they are in areas of environmental justice concerns, such as underserved communities.

So I jotted my idea down, and hit submit.

Over the course of Phases One and Two, the 10x team I worked with was able to pivot based on the new resources EPA received to start on a solution for electronic data collection and reporting. 10x helped us understand our customers better and make user needs a top priority as we moved forward with the electronic reporting transition (which centers on a public-facing system called ECHO). At the end of Phase Two, 10x provided us with the research and artifacts that we needed to improve accessibility to ECHO, allowing the EPA to move forward without further assistance.

Since then, we've established a working group with our users to refine the visual design that 10x helped us create. The first new feature for product refinement is a search capability for the tool, which we'll be coding and implementing later this year.

Overall, I would describe my experience as "easy and light." The expectations that 10x had for me were always reasonable. My input was always welcomed, I got to sit in on user research, and I was encouraged to keep in regular communications. I was pleased that 10x required very little paperwork on my end, even though they were deep in the weeds helping us out. I would describe the culture of 10x as friendly, collaborative, and enthusiastic about innovation.

Carey Johnston, EPA

Connie's story

Throughout my entire career, I've never been very far from the world of federal grants and at times, have been in the very heart of it. I'm an archaeologist by trade. Long before I ever joined the civil service, I spent many humid afternoons in a remote village in Northern Luzon conducting field work for my dissertation on local agriculture. That research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. I spent many more years working in museums and also benefited from the federal grants ecosystem along the way.

It's now 2023 and at the end of the year, I'll be retiring from my dream job as the Director of Grants Policy and Management at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Like I said, I've never been far from Federal grants.

During my time at the agency, I noticed a peculiarity in the nature of the grants that I came across. Most scientific research funded by Federal grants gets published. There's a culture of sharing and debating in science, because the discipline demands rigorous peer-reviewing.

But for non-scientific grants, like those for artists and museums that I was encountering, the same expectation of publishing for maximizing visibility simply isn't there. I was learning that not all work supported by Federal grants is equally visible. The idea I submitted to 10x that kickstarted the Finding Grant-Funded Results and Products project all began with that observation.

My role at IMLS has given me a chance to be involved in many aspects of what the agency does, from improved outreach and marketing grants opportunities to impact measurement, and more.

One initiative the agency undertook over the last few years that I was involved in was to develop a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to maximize value out of a system we both used called eGMS, or Electronic Grants Management System. Most of our agency's funding goes where it should go: supporting museums and libraries. This means our budget for other projects, like making improvements to eGMS, is very limited. So the work has focused mostly on co-developing training materials with NEA for a job aid manual, rather than on the more technical and research oriented areas where we are under-resourced.

The next workstream on the eGMS front is to figure out how to retrieve grant performance reports out of eGMS, and then publish them on our website. But I believe there are other possibilities as well. So late one night after mulling over an email promo from 10x I saw earlier in the day, I jotted down a few sentences and submitted my idea to 10x. The idea was for a capability that would allow potential grants applicants to — among other thing — find the results and products of previous grants from across agencies. This would maximize the potential discovery and reuse of the great work these grants have funded.

The alternative, the status quo, is that much of this great taxpayer funded work ends up in a manilla folder in a filing cabinet that is then deleted from the Federal archives after seven years.

10x picked up the idea and we went through two wonderful phases of 10x together, before the project ended with a recommendation that 10x not fund the work for Phase Three. Most of the work I observed during those two phases really focused on challenging us to understand our users' needs. They were excited that we had ideas of our own (making more grants content publicly available on our website) and encouraged us to think beyond, and really ask what we were hoping to accomplish, and what problem we were trying to solve. This was an eye-opening engagement.

One of the main reasons 10x recommended against moving forward with Phase Three was because we at IMLS had been evolving as an organization and the 10x team felt that it was time to pass the baton back to us. They recommended the work move forward and made a persuasive case that the potential for impact to the public was enormous, but that the time was right for IMLS to progress independently.

None of this was a heartbreak for us. Partly because the 10x team I worked with were so warm, so communicative, and so professional that I always felt looped-in. I got to sit in on real user interviews for the first time, and our agency learned so much about what our customers are really after that we'll put to use in the future. We're more confident in our ability to envision our own tech-enabled future and to define our needs. We have a much better sense of how to marry technology and our agency's mission. We're more self-sufficient at home and are less dependent on outsourcing our problem-solving to others. This is an exciting shift I've seen within IMLS, and 10x has helped us get there.

Connie Bodner, IMLS (Retired)

Tracing ripples

This section addresses a central conundrum that 10x has had to contend with for as long as we've been a federal venture studio. Private sector venture studios can easily determine whether or not their investments have been successful in the long term by looking at each investment's return on investment, or ROI. And often that's money in a bank account. But that's not the case for 10x. As a federal venture studio, the returns we seek on our investments — intangible improvements in digital experiences for the public — can't be reflected meaningfully by traditional metrics. Proving our investments' long-term success isn't as simple.

So instead, we try to "trace the ripples" of our graduated investments. We think of our investments as a tiny stone dropped in a big pond; the ripples that spread are the long-term positive changes we hope the public experiences from our investments. We caught up with two product owners, both of whom work on programs that 10x invested in years ago, to see how far the ripples traveled and which stuck sticks they loosened.

Investments in design innovation

The history of the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) goes all the way back to the very beginning of 10x in 2015, when we were known by another name: The Great Pitch. Back then, ideas were submitted in person, in the style of Shark Tank. One of the ideas that was pitched was the "Design System." The pitch for the "Design System" was to create a style guide for federal websites so the public could have a consistent, and user-friendly, experience. The "Design System" has since gone on to scale, making the ripples of our initial investment relatively easy to follow.

First, knowledge of the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) is virtually ubiquitous in the federal design space — most practitioners have heard of it, which was not the case five years ago. In addition, the user base is enormous, with USWDS components found on hundreds of government websites, and with collective site views in the hundreds of millions. If you've ever seen the banner that says, "An official website of the federal government" that's USWDS's doing.

Second, its value has been cited by the highest levels of the government. USWDS was highlighted in legislation as a solution for agencies to deliver excellent digital experiences to the public. More recently, OMB issued an executive memo on Delivering a Digital-First Public Experience that highlighted guidelines, best practices, and techniques for usability testing that USWDS has been helping agencies develop for years.

Since 2015, 10x has also invested in other USWDS-specific investments including an investment in 2020 focused on shipping digital forms components to aid the government's years-long effort to transition from paper forms. One of the recommendations from the 10x team on that investment was for USWDS to "lower the barriers to contribution" for federal UX designers, developers, and researchers. This has really stuck with and influenced the future development of the "Design System," as the product owner tells us. An open source forum and other open communication channels is one of the next big endeavors for the USWDS team.

Scaling through community was never a guaranteed path to success. There were other paths that USWDS could have taken instead of what it became. But we believe USWDS is well-positioned to continuously deliver impact well into the future. Its position within the federal government can help facilitate interactions, elevate new ideas, and encourage testing in the open, and USWDS will continue to adapt to emerging trends and changing user needs within this thriving community.

Investments in notifications technology

In 2022, 10x concluded three phases of the "U.S. Notify" investment and delivered a product called Notify.gov (Notify), modeled off the GOV.UK Notify System. This shared services platform will help federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments more effectively communicate with program participants through texting. The product is being piloted by TTS' Public Benefits Studio, a team that develops shared technology tools and best practices for all kinds of benefits programs.

While a recent graduate of 10x, the ripples are ever present. Since its graduation, the Benefits Studio has gone a long way in helping Notify succeed, such as:

  • Standing up a real team of engineers, designers, and program managers.
  • Securing high-level support from within our own agency.
  • Communicating a value proposition to attract users.
  • Navigating tricky legal and regulatory hurdles.
  • Working through partners' concerns around privacy and cybersecurity.

Notify also has its first users – five pilot partners in fact – all of which are government organizations at the federal, state, county, and city level. Its first pilot partner, the state of Washington, has already sent messages and identified more use cases, including texts to alert end-users of fraudulent activity, sending important weather alerts, and sending recertification reminders for expiring benefits.

All this has happened within the year since 10x successfully transitioned the product to its new home. If this first year's successes are any indication, Notify.gov is poised to be a big success. We can't wait to see the way the ripples spread.

10x dark matter

In scientific parlance, "dark matter" refers to everything that makes up the known universe that is neither visible nor detectable by humans using existing technology – about 85% of everything in the universe. To us, dark matter refers to the powerful but hard to pin down ideas that the 10x investment model delivers for civil servants. Dark Matter is a section we write about each year. It boils down to identifying and describing the hidden value in 10x work. Similar to our investments featured within the "Trace the ripples" section, we explore 10x's impact that isn't product-shaped. Through dark matter, we ask the following question: What if 85% of the value that 10x delivers lies within great ideas, not software?

Where we start

This year's Dark Matter begins with a look at the President's Management Agenda (PMA). The PMA is an essential guiding document for federal civil service, even if most people in the public have never heard of it. Each Presidential Administration issues a PMA and defines governmentwide management priorities for all federal agencies to improve how the government operates and performs.

When reading the current PMA, it becomes clear that our government puts a real emphasis on people. Within this first priority, the PMA declares that "The strength of any organization rests on its people" and that agencies have some wokr to do to boost employee engagement.

The PMA's second priority, Delivering excellent, equitable, equitable, and secure Federal services and customer experience, is geared towards improving satisfaction rates with government services. Successful implementation means taking a specific mindset stating that "People are at the center of everything the Government does."

These two priorities focus on two separate, yet interrelated definitions of "people." First, federal employees and second, the public they serve. While they may be categorized independently within the PMA, 10x detects a strong link between them and believes that there are ample opportunities for executing on them simultaneously. This year's Dark Matter examines that connection and our perspective that the federal government might find transformative potential in bridging the gap between federal employees and the public.

The gap

We don't believe and don't want to give the impression that federal workers and the public somehow exist independently of one another. Federal employees are members of the public and federal policies and programs impact them, too. Nevertheless, there is a specific and widely experienced gap in the ability of civil servants — particularly federal designers and technologists — to easily connect with members of the public.

Although the collection of user data is commonplace within federal research, interacting directly with the public, even for something as simple as getting feedback on a new webpage, remains a challenge. "I can't speak directly with my users" is a refrain 10x has heard time and again from federal designers who build public-facing digital services.

This is a real sore spot for 10x, as the lion's share of our investments focus on delivering public-facing products and services. There are real agency concerns about running afoul of Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) guidelines, but there is often a lack of support or understanding of the value of UX from agency budget officials and leaders, as well as strict legal limitations from within an agency's General Counsel's Office. We want to make it easier for federal designers to serve the public by empowering them to test products with and gather feedback directly from members of the general public.

Why that matters

Digital modernization investments in government are unlikely to succeed when they are built without user input. And when it comes to critical public-facing websites and services, unusable products can lead to serious and negative real world consequences. On the other hand, there have been several instances where successful modernization efforts used user research to make a tremendous difference in peoples' lives. Think of the successful rollout of covidtests.gov, which the General Services Administration (GSA) helped implement.

We believe the government's inability to effectively reach the public represents a missed opportunity to connect federal workers with the people they serve. Based on our experience over the last fiscal year, we've seen firsthand that connecting federal workers and the public has transformative potential both to improve public services and to strengthen the workforce. And we're focusing on one new way that the government can connect more with the public.

The transformative potential of research

We've seen firsthand that connecting federal workers and the public has transformative potential both to improve public services and to strengthen the workforce. And so we're looking for more opportunities to connect with the public and conduct research that is transformative for civil servants, the public, and the technology solutions we build together. This means:

  • Including non-technical civil servants, such as policy experts, budget authorities, or scientists, in either a formal or observatory capacity.
  • Directly involving members of the general public in research planning and execution.

Most people recognize that better products for the public result from strong research practices, but the benefits for the federal workforce are less obvious. We believe that connecting federal employees and the public can deliver:

  • Impact for the public through better, human-centered digital experiences.
  • Impact for the federal workforce by helping them deliver on their missions, re-engaging them in their work, and offering a chance to learn new skills.

For an example of how 10x's own research practices influenced both the public and the federal workforce, think of Connie, the grants policy wiz from IMLS we heard from earlier. Over the course of "Finding Grant-Funded Results and Products" the 10x team encouraged her to sit in on user interviews, and through this experience, she learned a lot about what her agency's customers are really after. We can prove that her 10x experience was engaging, because she said so herself, delaying retirement so that she could see the results of 10x's investment. Now that's employee engagement.

Over the last year, 10x has invested time and resources into clearing a path for easier public-facing research in government, starting at home within our own agency. 10x has worked internally to secure permission to conduct in-person user testing sessions, and developed a framework to help determine when it's permissible to compensate members of the public who participate in user research. This required working hand in hand with agency advocates in IT, legal, and procurement. We think this could scale widely and help other agencies do the same.

This resulted in 10x conducting on-the-ground user interviews for the first time in our program's history. In support of the "Improving Language Access" investment, 10x researchers worked with a trusted local organization in Atlanta, Georgia to identify and interview monolingual Spanish speakers. These interviews — which were with people who did not speak or read English — generated eye opening results about the research process, including:

  • Bilingual researchers are critical to the success of testing with people who are monolingual.
  • Cultural competence is particularly important when testing monolingual speakers. For example, there are several possible Spanish words meaning "study," each with different connotations. One interpretation gives the impression that interview participants "are being studied," and one suggests a more voluntary arrangement.
  • Some test participants were very reluctant to talk to researchers from the government, and we needed to make a special effort to build trust and protect their privacy.

The insights from this research will inform design guidance to make it easier for an underserved population to find content on government sites and, ultimately, improve government service delivery. We could never have done this without connecting with the public in meaningful ways.

Great digital experiences are rarely noticed, but the point isn't to build something that receives accolades. The point is for the government to build IT that makes a real difference in people's lives. And without the ability to easily connect with their real customers, civil servants will continue to struggle to deliver great experiences.

Where we go from here

Understanding real dark matter (the kind in outer space) is a colossal undertaking involving countless teams of scientists. Understanding the "dark matter" between two high-level priorities within the PMA we're describing may not require astrophysicists to decipher, but it does leave plenty to be explored.

We've outlined our vision to connect federal employees with the public they serve, but there are certainly other ways of building these connections. Not all of them will be explored by 10x, and that's where we want to call on the scores of dedicated civil servants to keep exploring.
"Make every federal job a good job, where all employees are engaged, supported, heard, and empowered..." states the PMA. To foster and build upon the connections between the federal workforce and the public we serve, civil servants need to put our innovator hats on. That sounds like a good job.

Look ahead to FY24

FY24 investment focus

In the coming year, we see a shift toward longer-term investments that double-down on our existing areas of expertise — like our portfolio of equity-focused tech. When we reflect on all the 10x investments over the years, equity-focused investments stand out, both in terms of the quantity of ideas in our pipeline, but also because these investments are where 10x has naturally gravitated.

Therefore, we've decided to double down on two new investment themes:
Reimagining Public Engagement and Equity in Delivery. By betting on these two themes, we're hoping to gather ideas on topics including:

  • Opportunities for the government and the public to co-design and build products and services together.
  • Innovative ways for governments to quickly respond to public inquiries.
  • Improving customer experience for the public.
  • Civil rights awareness.
  • Privacy preservation.
  • Environmental justice.
  • Fairness in emerging technologies.
  • Social safety net innovations.

We intend to keep these investment themes for the foreseeable future. Within these themes, we're hoping to invest, and see real progress with, the following target areas.

Boosting research practices across government

In FY23, we already succeeded in moving the needle in boosting government research practices. We were able to compensate research participants and conduct in-person user research with the public.

But as we discussed in "Dark Matter," getting research right is critical. We have active investments in our pipeline that are working in concert on different facets of the issue. One investment is called "Intuitive Consent," which explores ways to make it easier for participants to sign up for federal research opportunities. Another is "Enabling Government Research Operations," which is exploring the possible value of a new research model where in-house, centralized agency research teams are available to serve all digital efforts across an agency. Proving the value of this approach, and seeing it scale widely across the government, would be transformative.

We're beginning to see a path toward making diligent, ethical, and human-centered research ubiquitous across the federal government. In FY24, we're not just thinking about how to do it, but seeing how we can actualize it.

Forms! Forms! Forms!

Filling out forms and submitting government paperwork are two of the most common ways that the public interacts with the federal government. Think small business loans, benefits applications, and annual tax forms. The government is under a lot of pressure to make filling out forms easier for the public. That means that there is a lot of potential for innovation and impact in this area that 10x is already working on.

We're taking a "try everything" approach to bettering government forms. Current investments such as "Digital Access to Justice Platform" and "Equitable Form Design" and a new Phase 1, "Improving the Customer Experience for Grievance Applicants," explore different facets of government forms. Through these investments, we see a path towards a public experience that consistently meets the standards of the private sector or, in certain cases, eliminates the need for the public to fill out forms entirely. Getting there is far away, but 10x is excited to help the government get ever closer.

What's next

Since the earliest days of 10x, we've stuck with a phased investment approach. But change is healthy, and evolution is necessary for any business hoping to innovate.

10x embraces change, and our history reflects that. For example, the number of phases, their expected milestones, and funding levels have all evolved over the years. Even our staffing model is completely different than a year ago.

But all of these adaptations existed within our traditional model, or 10x Classic. This year, we've been asking, "What's next?" Because change is imperative to keep up with the pace of technology and current investment practices, 10x needs to adapt, or risk irrelevancy.

While we will continue funding 10x Classic, we're going to experiment with and pilot a brand new approach in FY24. We can't reveal it right now so you'll have to wait until next year's impact report to see what we did and whether it worked. However, we will embrace and maintain a group of principles that will guide our big experiment in FY24:

  • We'll focus more on problems that directly impact the public.
  • We'll take on more "moonshot" investments, which we call the big, risky, and promising ideas that can lead to transformative breakthroughs.
  • We're going to build and test earlier.
  • We're open to testing additional teaming arrangements that allow for greater specialization for our staff.
  • We'll welcome new methods for sourcing problem statements and ideas.
  • We'll cultivate a culture of learning and sharing.
  • We'll measure impact to ensure we are delivering our mission.

While we have always welcomed change, our primary focus throughout the years remains the same: Run towards hard problems. Focus on the public. Deliver impact for people.



The 10x budget is funded through the Federal Citizen Service Fund (FCSF), a fund appropriated by Congress that supports public-facing services and agency-facing programs that drive governmentwide transformation. Here's how we invested in FY23.

Phase# of projects kicked off# of project hours worked
Phase One182,727.25
Phase Two139,901.75
Phase Three44,241
Phase FourOngoing from FY20221,700.50
No Phase13,569.25
All Phases4022,139.75

10x investment snapshot

YearProjects Kicked Off *In various PhasesProjects Closed OutIdeas Received

This chart shows the number of ideas that we received, the number of investments kicked off in our various phases, and how many closed out over the years. In FY22, we held only one round of idea solicitation and evaluation, rather than the two rounds we've conducted in prior years.