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Meet the Expert: Jennifer Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly on Turbocharging Government's Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Topic: Management/Business
Jennifer Pahlka
Tim O'Reilly

We've all seen the headlines: "States Overwhelmed by Previously Unimaginable Layoff Numbers"; "Here's What Is in the 'Families First' Coronavirus Aid Package"; "Local Governments Struggle to Obey Their Own Social Distancing Mandates." It's a perfect storm for government: unprecedented demand and urgent new programs to respond to the disaster at the same time as many government employees used to working face-to-face must suddenly work from home.

Add to that a flood of stimulus money now, followed by a later drought as tax revenues are gutted by the economic shutdown, and two things are clear: people depend on government more than ever, and for government workers, getting better at providing digital services is no longer "nice to have" but "must have."

In this Meet the Expert session, Tim O'Reilly will talk with Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, former deputy chief technology officer of the United States, and now co-founder of United States Digital Response, a new nonprofit connecting technology volunteers with governments that need their help. They’ll discuss the new challenges governments face and, the resources that are available to meet them, and share case studies of how governments are fulfilling their mission in the present crisis.

O'Reilly Meet the Expert explores emerging business and technology topics and ideas through a series of one-hour interactive events. You’ll engage in a live conversation with experts, sharing your questions and ideas while hearing their unique perspectives, insights, fears, and predictions.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live show, you’ll better understand:

  • The unique challenges governments are facing during the current crisis
  • How your peers in government are standing up new digital services quickly and at lower cost using Agile methods
  • How to find skilled volunteers who can help with your most urgent problems
  • Available resources to get your team to get up to speed on technologies that can help with the recovery

This training course is for you because...

  • Your job is to continue delivering crucial government services during the pandemic.
  • You want to learn how to support one of the most critical sectors of our economy and safety net.


  • Come with your questions for Jennifer Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly
  • Have a pen and paper handy to capture notes, insights, and inspiration

Recommended follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and former executive director of Code for America. She served as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2013–2014, where she conceived of and founded the United States Digital Service. She is also a member of the Defense Innovation Board, and a co-founder of US Digital Response, an ad-hoc group that is helping governments find technology, communications, and supply chain volunteers to solve their most urgent problems during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Tim O’Reilly is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of O'Reilly Media, the company that has been providing the picks and shovels of learning to the Silicon Valley goldrush for the past thirty-five years. The company has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. If you've heard the term "open source software", "web 2.0", "the Maker movement", "government as a platform", or "the WTF economy", he's had a hand in framing each of those big ideas. Tim is also a partner at early stage venture firm O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), and on the boards of Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox. He is the author of many technical books published by O'Reilly Media, and most recently WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us (Harper Business, 2017). He is working on a new book about why we need to rethink antitrust in the era of internet-scale platforms.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 9:00am PT / 12:00pm ET

  • Introduction and presentation (15 minutes)
  • Interactive discussion and Q&A (45 minutes)