10x announces new projects chosen for FY22 Phase 1 funding

We are excited to reveal the latest cohort of projects chosen to begin Phase 1 of the 10x process.  Out of nearly 200 ideas, we selected the 25 ideas we feel have the most potential to deliver impact for the American public. We want to express sincere gratitude for the many federal employees who raised a hand and submitted ideas to 10x. We are particularly excited that our reach across the government is expanding: over 80% of the ideas we evaluated came from outside of our home agency, a record high.

These are the ideas we selected for Phase 1:

Bringing Mutual Aid to Underserved Communities for Post-disaster Rebuilding

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters. Underserved communities are uniquely vulnerable, often with limited capacity to respond and recover. After a disaster, surging demands on a community’s building department create bottlenecks that can slow rebuilding to a crawl. Interstate and intrastate mutual aid agreements help resolve this issue and can be federally reimbursed under Section 1206 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018. However, the procedures to properly leverage mutual aid agreements, and even their existence, are poorly known. 10x will research creating tools such as an interactive web portal that adds transparency to mutual aid arrangements and opportunities, provides access to procedures, and makes it easy for public officials and volunteers to sign up for deployments. A portal could increase the use of mutual aid for building depts., support congressional legislation on disaster resilience, and help communities build back better.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

PPRL as a Service

Agencies often share data containing personally identifiable information (PII) with one another to answer research, policy, and program implementation questions. Privacy laws and related concerns around properly handling PII introduce extraordinarily complex and lengthy data use agreements and negotiation processes which limits the timeliness and effectiveness of shared data.

Past research suggests data can be shared across the government through methods that allow linking individual-level data without sharing any PII. Privacy-preserving record linkage (PPRL) is a family of techniques used to link datasets without requiring access to PII. 10x will investigate the creation of a government-operated PPRL service that will enable agencies to share important data with greater ease and efficiency. Establishing PPRL practices and services within government could revolutionize the way the government interacts with data securely.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

Meeting Disaster Survivors Where They Are

Throughout COVID-19, agencies such as FEMA experimented with different types of housing inspections for disaster survivors to both mitigate public health risks and to promote equity (e.g., virtual, external only, etc.). Based on this experience, there is an opportunity to better meet people where they are and deliver assistance quickly and accurately with the least burden possible on survivors. This project could lead to implementation of multi-modal inspection options that meet the unique needs of individuals while ensuring consistency in damage assessments. 10x will explore ideas for new inspection methods that emphasize equity, speed, accuracy, fiscal stewardship, public health, and secure data-sharing. 

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Ensuring Equitable Disaster Management

Decisions made by human beings during federal disaster response may not be perfect, which can lead to unintended biases in who receives what aid and when. For instance, wealthier communities may receive aid more rapidly than low-income communities, since aid is often allocated based on cost-benefit criteria. But disadvantaged communities suffer the same or more from disasters. For example, during Katrina and Harvey, areas with the worst flood damage were predominantly minority communities. Equitable disaster management considers not only resource deployment, but also the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of those impacted. 10x will investigate a decision support tool for promoting equity-centered disaster mgmt., which could incorporate socio-economic, demographic, infrastructural, climatological and weather data to estimate exposure and risks to vulnerable communities and how the gov’t can respond to disasters in a way that leaves no one behind.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Modern Matchmaking between Innovators and STEM Funding Opportunities

The federal research funding landscape is rich with funding opportunities for the scientific and engineering communities. But the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of many projects adds complexity to the process for matching the right funding opportunities for the right folks. Without deep prior knowledge or expertise, getting in the door can be a significant burden or deterrent for new and prospective applicants. 10x will investigate how to leverage public information on funding opportunities and digital innovation to drive a smart recommendation tool. For example, instead of using crude keyword searches or through browsing individual agency sites, a user could input text into a web app and receive a list of relevant funding opportunities based on matching from across federal funding sources with direct links to submission instructions. This could build off existing work from agencies such as NIH to serve the entire Science and Engineering community by making it easier to connect ideas to funding opportunities.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The National Science Foundation

Secure Digital Storage for Eligibility Documents

Social safety net programs require people to prove their eligibility for benefits with extensive documentation. Tracking and gathering these documents can be confusing and burdensome for benefits applicants, especially during times of financial or other hardship.

10x will investigate how the federal government could reduce the burden on the public by providing a mechanism for people to store their government documents digitally and to share access on a doc-by-doc level with other users or agencies. For example, using Login.gov, users could upload documents while working with a housing caseworker. Users could securely maintain their own documents digitally, which could be downloaded or shared with other benefits programs if the user consents, reducing the burden on folks who need government benefits most.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

Modern Approaches to Clearing Criminal Records

Many people with criminal records are eligible to have their records cleared, but navigating this process can be arduous. As a result, many people– disproportionately minority and low-income folks who experience the equity shortcomings of our justice system—do not receive the criminal record relief for which they are eligible. Past criminal records create barriers for accessing employment, immigration, housing, government programs, child custody, & more. As many states and local governments have done, 10x will work with federal partners to evaluate existing statutes providing clearance of federal criminal records and proactively clear eligible records, removing the burden both from the applicant from applying and from individual agencies from having to process paperwork. In doing so, individuals will no longer be penalized for past justice system interactions that, if administrative burdens were lessened, would no longer be on their records.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

Improving Access to Translated Content on Government Sites

When conducting usability testing in preparation for the 2020 Census, researchers observed that non-English-speakers often struggled to access translated content on government websites. 10x will investigate ​research-based development, including respondent testing of different layouts (e.g., top right, located next to primary task on the screen, bottom of the page, etc.), varying designs (e.g., drop downs, icons, dynamic/scrolling menus, links, buttons, etc.), and new technologies (e.g., using device paradata to direct users to the language their browser is set to, QR codes, etc.) for respondents to access non-English language materials on federal websites and surveys. Through testing innovative designs for accessing translations, the government can determine the best design for non-English-speakers to access needed services so they have a more positive experience with government websites across agencies.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau 

Improving Government Digital Service Delivery to U.S. Territories

Government digital services often fail to meet the needs of the 3.6 million people living in the U.S. territories, or to reflect their lived experiences accurately. For example, it’s common for territories to be excluded from maps, drop-downs, and other visuals on government websites. As a result, people living in the territories have a less equitable experience compared to people living in the states. 10x will investigate how user-centered and equity-centered design approaches could create more inclusive, accessible, and equitable digital services to the people in the US territories.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

Reimagining Public Access to Geospatial Imagery

Federal agencies (such as USDA) sit on a wealth of modern and historical land imagery: 10 Petabytes of imagery data covering the heartland, from black & white photos to modern satellite imagery. The problem is that access to this imagery is not equitable across a diverse customer base. Commercial organizations and companies are adept at using federal imagery to power their applications. But less-resourced organizations/individuals find it daunting to locate and acquire the imagery online. 10x will investigate this issue, highlighting equity gaps in access to imagery and identify ways digital technology could fill them. A good example of the impact this could have on a less-resourced user would be helping policy-makers at a county government access satellite imagery that shows the growth of urban sprawl and its effect on receding farmland in that county over a period of years. Opening up vast imagery data could also potentially spur exciting commercial activity in unpredictable ways.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Agriculture, Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC)

Connecting the Vocational Rehabilitation Data Landscape

Researchers have observed shortcomings in data collection and collaboration efforts faced by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors and agencies. These shortcomings include inefficient paper-based processes and obstacles to data collection. In addition, procuring and maintaining VR databases is left up to individual states, most of which approach these challenges in siloes, resulting in unconnected systems and the missed opportunity to open and learn from that data. 10x will research  innovative ways to connect these 50+ VR databases, which could deliver impact for people with disabilities through more employment opportunities and by freeing up time for case workers to focus on serving their users.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The National Council on Disability 

Expanding and Serving the User Base for Complex Economic Data

Agencies such as the Department of Commerce manage a wealth of incredibly valuable data, covering the health of the labor market to trends in population changes, and more. Many of the largest, most comprehensive datasets are inaccessible to users who do not have deep technical experience working with the agency’s specific schema and publication formats. Think Tanks, PhD's, and journalists know how to access and use the data, but there are many local organizations and urban planners who are hungry for data about the economic well-being of communities who are not able to effectively engage with it, because it is fundamentally catered towards the most vocal users. 10x will investigate the most effective ways that digital innovations can help make economic data more accessible to community groups. For example, by highlighting likely use cases for linking datasets and then providing technology-lite ways of accessing them so that non-technical users can benefit from this important data.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce, Director’s Office

Transparency for Fines and Fees

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.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP)

Empowering Small-Scale Farmers to Benefit from Public Open Data

Researchers have observed an increasing equity divide in how key agricultural data is accessed and used by independent farmers. Many private firms offer subscription services that provide user-friendly, actionable tools that are powered by complex, hard-to-find public open datasets. The combination of the difficulty in using raw agricultural data and the need to pay to access the data in a consumable format represents an equity gap for less-resourced, small-scale farmers, many of whom are minorities. 10x will investigate potential solutions, including restructuring data, improving API access, and better documenting available data in an electronic way, to lessen the divide among small and large farm producers, limit the need for producers to pay for publicly available data, and create more equitable agricultural markets.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Agriculture, Research, Education, and Economics (REE)

Tailored Risk Assessment Tools for Cancer Therapies

Clinical trials are often conducted in homogenous patient populations, but cancer therapies are administered to diverse populations. The outcomes described in clinical trials and risks of those outcomes may not be applicable to populations that were under-represented in the original trials. 10x will investigate a service that combines findings from published clinical trial regimens with original patient population demographics and their outcomes could power a risk calculator. Patients and providers could enter specific information about the patient and the service would calculate estimated risks for different therapies. This tool could help providers talk with patients and achieve shared decision-making on the most effective therapy considering patient choice and other quality of life outcomes. This project could use existing APIs and resources that hold information on published clinical trials, creating algorithms to estimate risk, and making an interface available to patients and providers.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Hearing Resident Perspectives on Federal Housing

COVID changed the way we think about our homes. They now double as offices, schools, and child care centers. Federal agencies (including HUD, DoD, and USDA) have established multiple ways of collecting quantitative data, but residents of federal housing do not have a channel to communicate their values and concerns to the government. When resident perspectives are not heard, a critical viewpoint is lost. In the absence of these perspectives, owner viewpoints can carry disproportionate influence, which leads to unbalanced policies that put assets and structures over people. 10x will investigate ways for residents to directly let the government know what housing quality factors are most important to them by reporting issues in their homes. That information could be provided to both the agencies with oversight responsibilities and housing providers to address specific conditions. At the federal scale, the aggregate data would help develop evidence-based policies that are people-focused, more inclusive, and promote equitable outcomes.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Housing and Urban Development

Reimagining Tribal Consultation

There are many complexities in Tribal consultation practices across the federal government. Tribal consultation offers a means for weaving Tribal input into federal decision-making processes; however, there are many challenges that limit meaningful and robust consultation. 

It is challenging for Tribes to find and attend Tribal consultations, communicate and engage with multiple federal agencies, easily update their contact information, and learn about consultation procedures. It is challenging for federal agencies to minimize scheduling conflicts, standardize the process of consultation, collaborate with other agencies, and share outcomes. 

These challenges have contributed to a history in which the federal government has often failed to live up to the treaty and trust responsibilities that have their foundation in the U.S. Constitution. 10x will investigate potential digital solutions, including a user-friendly digital platform that could improve Tribal consultation.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of the Interior

A Knowledge Graph of the Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) deeply impacts public life for Americans in many ways, from how tax returns and loan applications are filed to visiting public parks. But the CFR consists of dense, unstructured legal text that is difficult to comprehend. Many businesses and members of the public pay consultants or purchase tools to advise them on regulations. While the eCFR assists with navigation and some agencies have dedicated staff as advisors, there is still a significant burden for the public to find answers to their regulatory questions. 10x will use techniques such as the creation of a high-quality knowledge graph of the CFR based on natural language processing techniques, along with analysis of agencies’ data about public interactions with the CFR (i.e. hotline call logs, common violations, etc.), to potentially create a more user-friendly lookup tool to answer questions about regulations more seamlessly. This could also alleviate the need for regulatory experts to interpret regulations.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau

Increasing Public Participation in Statistical Surveys

Perhaps the most unique and critical aspect of federal statistical agencies, when compared to other public entities, is that in order to provide a quality service they depend on the public to willingly provide information and be engaged participants. Researchers have observed agricultural businesses, ranchers and farmers are demanding easier, more convenient, and secure ways to provide their information. 10x will investigate new, user-friendly, secure ways for respondents to provide information to federal agencies such as USDA that could lead to better products and services that serve rural populations. 

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Agriculture, Research, Education, and Economics (REE)

Privacy-Protected Engagement with Online Government Services

When the government engages with the public online, it takes great care to protect the privacy of site visitors and their families. But there is one shortcoming in how site visitors are protected, and that is with ad tracking. While efforts such as the Digital Analytics Program have helped government sites safely collect non-identifiable visitor data, many federal sites still contain other privacy-invading trackers from a variety of ad networks. 10x will investigate approaches for educating site managers and providing tools for understanding and limiting their participation in ad networks. This could help the government live up to its promise of a safe and commercial-free experience for the public. In the absence of such an effort, the government risks continuing to facilitate the sale of individuals' interactions with sites they use in some of the most painful moments of their lives – when they are seeking aid.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)

Standardized Descriptive Labeling for Advanced Algorithms

Algorithms are increasingly affecting many parts of public and private life, and yet a standardized means by which to identify an algorithm's component parts does not exist. 

Following the model of how the USDA established standardized nutrition and ingredients labels for food, 10x will investigate similar standardized labels for algorithms. This would benefit civil servants who evaluate the “nutrition” of algorithms to ensure they could be used transparently and equitably and benefit the American public. These labels could be scaled across the public and private sectors and offer transparency into how algorithms that affect their lives are designed and used.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The General Services Administration

Curated Scientific Calculators for Public Researchers

The process of innovation research and development involves deploying a wide variety of calculations, from simple arithmetic functions on spreadsheets all the way to advanced software simulations. Researchers have observed that the federal and public research communities lack resources to perform calculations that fall in between those two extremes. Researchers who need tailored, semi-advanced calculations are forced to reinvent the wheel each time, due to a lack of reusability and awareness of available solutions. 

10x will leverage the reputation, skill and experience of federal agencies such as NIST to investigate the infrastructure and training required to curate and encourage submissions of crowd-sourced scientific calculators that will run in real-time (a few minutes or less) on a shared server. This open-source framework will provide better availability, error catching and benchmarking of medium-sized calculations for researchers and R&D engineers.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Equitable Form Design

Government forms vary dramatically in how they capture information, creating confusion for people who have to fill out these forms to apply for benefits, loans, grants, and other services. Many of these forms do not follow best practices for documenting demographic characteristics which results in a poor user experience for various demographics, such as transgender people or people whose names are difficult to write in character-limited text boxes. In addition, variation in form design and fields leads to challenges when linking data across administrative boundaries. 10x will investigate the use of templates for how forms should be structured in a way that captures and reflects people’s identities. This could improve the public’s experience with forms and the accuracy of the information that is used to determine benefits eligibility, and would enable researchers and policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions using accurate demographic data.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau 

Shared UX Resources Library

Several government Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) teams have created user personas and other research artifacts to use when designing digital services and products. Many of these artifacts could be used as a starting point for research efforts undertaken by other agencies. For example, many veterans served by the VA are also Social Security beneficiaries and file taxes with the IRS.

10x will investigate creating a government-wide personas/research artifacts library. CX and UX teams could submit personas created for their agencies, and access personas created by other agencies.  This could benefit CX and UX teams across the federal government by reducing the need to "reinvent the wheel" and the costs associated with the user research critical to creating personas. And of course, this would also benefit members of the public through better digital services.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Social Security Administration 

Creative Incentives and Tools  for Increased Public Participation in User Research

As federal agencies strive to improve customer experience, they need the ability to conduct research and usability testing with members of the public. But there are currently very few incentives or tools available to promote participation in research and testing. 10x will investigate ways to incentivize public participation in research, which is critical to designing effective products. Possible incentives or mechanisms include financial compensation, or developing a user-friendly way for volunteers to sign up to participate in testing sessions.

An idea submitted by a civil servant at: The Department of Commerce

To learn more about what it means for a project to begin Phase 1, see our process. We anticipate kicking off these projects on a rolling basis over the next few months.

The best place to find information on these projects — and other active or completed 10x projects — as well as our process, is right here on our website. Some of our projects are currently profiled on Our Projects; more will be added over the coming months.

About 10x

10x is an investment program that takes ideas submitted by federal employees and turns them into technology projects that improve how the government delivers excellence for the public. 10x is a part of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) division. TTS applies modern methodologies and technologies to improve the lives of the public and public servants.