Panel: Hidden Signals Challenge

Recently I took part in scoring entries for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Hidden Signals Challenge, a competition that “calls upon data innovators from a wide variety of fields—from data science, to civic tech, to epidemiology—to develop concepts for novel uses of existing data that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities.”

Here’s a blog post published today about that process:

Meet the Review Panel: 17 Experts in Data, Health, and Public Safety

ORD Camp: Back to Basics

This morning I chaired an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at ORD Camp. 8 people attended, a mix of new members, old timers, and people who have alcoholics in their lives.

Here’s the materials I created for the session, which might be useful in adapting for other conferences. Here’s a zip folder of all the docs and here’s a deeper look at the material:


Suggested Format for AA ORD Camp 2018 Meeting

As adapted from here and here. All docs needed for this session are here.

Welcome to the Ad Hoc 2018 ORD Camp group of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are glad you are all here – especially newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking,” we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol.

The A.A. Preamble (reprinted with permission by Grapevine, Inc.)

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience; strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we a self supporting through our own contributions. A.A. Is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.*

Have one of the members read “How It Works” from Chapter 5 of the Big Book. Or at your discretion, you may choose a portion of the Big Book to be read.

Have a member read The 12 Traditions. Some groups choose to read on the 1st meeting of the month.

Ask if there are any newcomers with 30 days or less? Welcome any newcomers. Ask them to identify themselves by first name only. Urge them to remain after the meeting to talk to group members.

Introduce the Speaker for the meeting. Pass a signup list for comments. The Chairperson should qualify briefly by providing a topic for discussion around our recovery from alcoholism and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once the Speaker is done, take a 5 minute break and then do comments in the order in which people signed the list.

Pass a basket. The 7th Tradition states: “Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting declining outside contributions.” Any contributions will be delivered by the Chairperson to the central office of Chicago Area Service Office.

Time for A.A. related announcements.

Invite members (who wish) to join in closing the meeting with Serenity Prayer.

How It Works — Front
How It Works – Back
AA Preamble
AA Twelve Traditions

If you have questions about how to run an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at a conference, hit me up!

DXO ORD Camp Photo 2018

Award: California Multiple Award Schedules (CMAS) Contract

Today Ad Hoc was awarded  California Multiple Award Schedules (CMAS) contract number 3-17-70-3437A. This CMAS contract, along with our previous placement on California’s Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) Vendor Pool, allows Ad Hoc to bid on a number of opportunities in the state of California.

I helped lead the contract team on this project, compiling past performance, rates, and labor categories necessary for the award. I traveled to Sacramento in order to work directly with government in obtaining the award and to field a team to compete for work.

Headquarters of California Department of General Services.

Corporate Photographer: Ad Hoc Retreat III

Wherever I go, I take pictures. Here’s images from Ad Hoc Retreat III, which wrapped today.

I have fond memories of the Executive Office Building

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

UPDATE: Here’s a snip from the blog post I wrote summarizing retreat

On Wednesday afternoon, our team took a tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, led by our colleagues on the U.S. Digital Service at VA team.

Vets dot gov team photo

Award: California’s Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) Vendor Pool

Today I helped Ad Hoc get selected for the California’s Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) vendor pool. Here’s how the California Department of Technology describes the selection:

The California Department of Technology has announced the selection of 13 vendors who are now part of the State’s expanded Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) vendor pool. Along with 11 companies that were previously selected in 2016 when the vendor pool was initially created, there are now 24 vendors eligible to bid on opportunities for agile and user-centered design services. Read more about the establishment of the ADPQ vendor pool on our website: While CWDS has been the first state organization to use the vendor pool for the development of the Child Welfare Services – New System (CWS-NS) project, CDT expanded the pool to increase competition and allow all state agencies and departments to use it. Read the Notification of Selection here.

My role was to manage the overall process, participate in product strategy meetings around the CAlert prototype, and prepare and deliver Ad Hoc’s response.

Here’s the Notification of Selection – PQVP DS-AS List and here’s a screenshot of the prototype:

Subcontract Award: Hospital Quality Reporting

Today I helped Ad Hoc win a subcontract award for Hospital Quality Reporting (HQR). The prime contractor, Bellese, is relying on Ad Hoc to provide all User Experience Research for the project, including four full-time researchers. This allows Ad Hoc to build its capacity in this area and build out a larger team.


Presence St. Joseph Hospital, Chicago

My role was to help identify the opportunity, develop the partnership, assist in creation of the response, and help build the team.

A New Set of Voqal Grants in Chicago

Today Voqal  announced a series of new grants here in Chicago. Here’s a snip from their press release:

The Voqal Fund is pleased to announce six new grants to organizations working in the Chicago area to enhance the community and strengthen social equity. The grants  to Chicago Filmmakers (Chicago Digital Media Production Fund), BYP100, Illinois Coalition for  Immigrant and Refugee Rights, City Bureau, State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and Illinois  Humanities reflect Voqal Fund’s commitment to support progressive movements for social

Being a part of the Voqal board is one of my great joys. I am personally invested in many of these grants. The work of stitching together a coherent set of workers— led by Voqal program officer Leah Pryor-Lease—  is very much worth doing.

Here’s the complete press release.

City Bureau 2015 at the Firehouse

The Launch of Cohorts

Today I helped launch Cohorts, a service of Ad Hoc that allows us to conduct incisive research with groups of relevant people to make government digital services work better for all.

Here’s some snips from the launch blog post:

There are two components to Cohorts — finding the right people and conducting the right research.

On the people side, we have a system for recruiting, managing, and rewarding Cohorts members. The software we built is based on the Kimball project from the Smart Chicago Collaborative. My Ad Hoc colleague Chris Gansen and I created Kimball back in 2012 to support the launch of the CUTGroup, which was a new model for UX testing, digital skills development, and community engagement in civic tech. We forked the code for Kimball, modified it for Cohorts, and re-published it as open source.

On the research side, Cohorts is at the center of our growing user research practice. Our full-time researchers, along with our partners and clients, conduct interviews with Americans all over the country about broad topics like veterans and their health, clinicians and quality measures, and specific interface questions around the text on a login screen. We do this work in the context of large projects for our existing clients, and we also offer smaller, research-only engagements.