In the last decade, technology companies — primarily, a small handful of big companies — have driven profound shifts in our society. They’ve reshaped the nature of work, how we consume news and information, our forums for public discourse, and culture itself. This rapid accumulation of power, influence, and data has provoked legitimate scrutiny of tech companies as society grapples with the full extent, depth, and speed of digital change. Meanwhile, government technology hasn’t been able to keep up with the acceleration of technological progress for a variety of reasons outlined by Jennifer Pahlka in the article "Which side are you on, vendors?" The public’s trust in government to solve problems has eroded to a historic low. While many factors have contributed to this decline, government websites that close at 5 p.m. for maintenance or are down before an enrollment deadline certainly don’t increase trust.
According to Gallup, Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle both domestic and international problems has sunk to the lowest points in more than two decades.
Deep distrust between government and its people is dangerous for democracy. At Nava, we see our work at the intersection of technology and government as an incredible opportunity to help mend the brittle and broken relationships between people and public institutions. We chose to be a public benefit corporation because we believe that companies have a social responsibility to the people affected by their work, and to the broader public. For companies like ours — that are paid with taxpayer dollars, whose work affects millions of lives — social responsibility should be the norm, not the exception.
We imagine a world where public services are trusted, efficient, and easy to use, and policy is driven by user needs. We imagine a world where companies that build and support systems for governments are held accountable, and where technology opens doors instead of building barriers. Advancing our vision over the long-term requires a structural and holistic approach — starting with the often invisible foundations deep within agencies, all the way up to services that people can see and touch. And we choose our work carefully to make that vision real.