In November, the United States Forest Service (USFS), in partnership with 18F, launched Open Forest, an online permit-issuing system, to help the Forest Service sell tree-cutting permits online. With Open Forest, you can easily go online, buy a permit, print it out, and go to a national forest to cut down Christmas trees and (soon) participate in other activities requiring permits on these public lands.
Laura Gerhardt details her two-year working relationship on this top Forest Service IT priority as the team leveraged opportunities and persisted through challenges, leading to the successful launch of Open Forest. Along the way, she explores the the values, process, and frameworks used to build the platform, including user-centered design, stakeholder engagement, product management, modular procurement, scaled Agile, DevOps, Cloud.gov, the US Web Design System, and a vibrant team culture.
Laura Gerhardt is the analytics lead for 18F’s Login.gov. She helped launch the first bug bounty in civilian government, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) marketplace, and Open Forest, the US Forest Service’s online permitting app. Previously, she supported the director of forensic science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as the City and County of San Francisco chief data officer. In her free time, she enjoys small hardware hacking projects.
Amber Sprinkle has worked for the Forest Service for nearly 20 Years. As a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) planner for the Mt. Hood National Forest, she leads interdisciplinary teams through the environmental review process to ensure proposed projects are aligned with environmental law, regulation, and policy. Amber is also currently the product owner for the team building Open Forest, the US Forest Service’s pilot for online permitting application. Previously, Amber spent more than five years as a special forest products coordinator on Mt. Hood, where she gained a deep understanding of the public demand for an online permitting solution through her experience overseeing the Christmas tree, firewood, and mushroom programs, to name a few. In her free time, Amber enjoys cheering for her daughter’s softball team and training for a yoga teacher certification.
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