Public Sector Experience | 2013 Award Categories

Public Sector Experience

Political, budgetary, security, and compliance realities typically cause the quality and usefulness of public sector technologies to lag far behind those of the private sector. Nevertheless, there are extraordinary opportunities to use user-centered practices to effect positive changes in governments and societies. This award recognizes digital solutions, applications, services, and other experiences created by or for public-sector entities that have made noteworthy use of user-centered practices to create solutions that significantly advance the work of those entities and deliver real value to citizens.


DiscoverBPS is a search engine for Boston Public Schools that was conceived during a 2011 Fellowship at Code for America, where Joel Mahoney saw an opportunity to improve the experience of parents trying to find the right schools for their children. By entering their home address and the grade level of their child, parents see a personalized list of schools on a map and are able to sort and compare their schools, ranking their final selection in a way that optimizes their odds of admission. The judges were impressed with the way the search engine made a very difficult and alienating process easier and by the way it improved relations between parents and school administrators.