Civic Futures Awards

Building capacity and culture to support design and tech talent

City of Austin

Office of Design & Delivery

The problem

The challenges and nature of work have dramatically changed, but the methods of forming and managing teams in government are strikingly similar to the way they worked 20 years ago. As a result, we’re failing to compete with other sectors for design & tech talent.

Solution / Approach

The Office of Design & Delivery (or “odd office”) has introduced new practices for recruiting, hiring, and managing creative teams, building one of the largest offices of design and tech experts in local government. Among over 70 hires, 40% identify as people of color, 18% identify as LBGTQ+, and 58% identify as female.

Core team
  • Marni Wilhite
  • Ben Guhin
  • Gerald Oliver
  • Brian Smith
  • Laura Trujillo
  • Amenity Applewhite
  • Taylor Cook
Key advisors
  • Stephen Elkins
  • Farah Muscadin
  • 18F / TTS
  • US Digital Service
  • Danish Design Center
  • The 27th Region
  • The Lab @ DC
What can make it sustainable?

To be sustainable, the program will need to invest in full-time roles to support our established teams, including leadership with experience in how to manage and scale these types of teams.

Advice to others

Make sure to build your program under leaders who align with your goals and values. And don’t hire too quickly! Your first ten to fifteen people will shape your culture, and it’s important to be deliberate in those early decisions.