Wall Street Journal
(08/26/12) Holly Finn
The new nonprofit Code for America (CfA), a kind of peace corps for geeks, has led the way in bringing online efficiency to offline government systems, handpicking a team of tech stars each year to take time off from their jobs and offer their services to local governments. CfA fellows have designed more than 35 apps, for everything from urban blight to school buses, and the group also runs an Accelerator program for civic startups. It took two CfA fellows just two and a half months to complete one government project that was expected to take two years and cost $2 million. CfA puts its fellows in a warehouse in San Francisco, where they bond with each other. "Coding sprints, design sprints, they're with us," says CfA executive director Jennifer Pahlka. The CfA fellows act more like a stealth team of computer-savvy SEALs when they fan out to do five-week research residences within city governments across the country. There are 26 fellows in eight cities this year, while 550 people have applied for 25 to 30 spots next year.