It is interesting to see the project that help persuade me that working within the public sector offered opportunity for design professionals fails so miserably.
What I have found is that there is plenty of opportunity, but that the organization itself must be taught how to leverage the value of design professionals to assist in the achieving its goals. This is no small task in any large institution, but federal agencies present a unique challenge.
So as the finger pointing intensifies I will not attempt to speak as I know all of the reasons why the program (to collect data from people living in this country with a small hand held computer will not be implemented) but I can speak to the possibility still being entirely achievable. Though it will not happen in 2010 as hoped the agency is further along than five year ago.
From my point of view, I would simply say that the strategy that focused on retro-fitting a commercial product to fit within the very specific needs and requirements of a census environment created was a faulty one.
In other words, the program would have had a much greater chance of succeeding if the strategy had focused on developing a product specific to the needs of the organization. The lesson for designers, get to know and understand your users; and for organizations technology is not the complete answer but how and what technology should be used. It is this latter lesson where designers talents are best suited to synthesize then shape products that people/organizations can use.
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