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Working groups and guilds 101

Working groups and guilds are self-organized groups that improve practices, host discussions, and explore ideas in TTS. These volunteer groups decide how and where to focus their efforts and conversations. Anyone may participate in any working group or guild.

The TTS Policy and Procedure for Internal Project Review exempts working groups and guilds from review, but client work generally takes priority over guild or working group projects.

Key concepts

Working groups are self-organized. They spin up or down depending on our organizational needs.

Guilds are more permanent than working groups and are sponsored by the TTS Chief of Staff. Working groups may propose themselves for guild status. Every guild has one or more leaders chosen by competition and either regular open meetings or an open Slack channel where questions are welcome.

18F has a playbook with instructions on how to organize a working group or guild, how to maintain team cohesion, and how to produce artifacts. All groups have a Slack channel. Working-group related channels have a wg- in front of their name; guilds have a g- before the name. Feel free to jump into and out of any of the working group or guild channels to participate or ask questions. The 18F Working Groups & Guilds Calendar houses all formal meeting times for working groups and guilds.

The open Slack channel for guild leaders & other practice leaders who wish to join is #guild-practice-leads


Accessibility We help 18F develop good, accessible products from the start of production in order to provide an excellent user experience for everyone.
Agile We improve the quality and speed of service delivery through process improvement by encouraging the use of iterative methods in the research, planning, and development of solutions we implement.
Content We promote concise, elegant, user-centered writing. We plan for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
Design Research We envision a world where government agencies use design research to shape their decision making processes.
Devops Our mission is to ensure great devops for our projects.
Diversity We help make 18F a great place to work for people of all backgrounds.
Engineering Practices Promoting smart and scalable engineering practices across the frontend and backend.

Current Working Groups

Compliance We create tooling, resources, and emotional support for people to get through compliance processes.
Consulting We work to build skills by asking questions and sharing our experiences regarding what to expect and how to manage the unique complexity of consulting work. We also work on consulting-related projects and resources to help 18F evolve its overall organizational consulting capability.
Documentation We work to improve the comprehensiveness, quality, and tooling of documentation at 18F.
Ethics Exploring how our work might impact or impose risks on our users, our clients, and the public more generally.

Guild leadership competition

Guilds are led by 1-3 TTS staff members who spend a few hours a week on practice leadership. Individual guilds can set leadership terms, with the most common being one year. Guild leadership is recognized by a staff member’s supervisor as a responsibility and they should be reviewed on their performance. However, it is an informal role. There are no administrative supervisory duties attached and there is no GS-level or previous leadership requirement.

We hold lightweight competitions for these informal leadership roles. Here is an outline of the process:

  1. Guilds decide who is eligible for leadership spots - previous participation, mid-level or expert experience in the discipline etc are reasonable qualifications but not required.
  2. The guild asks for nominations via email and Slack posting. Guilds can choose to allow self-nomination only, or accept nominations by other people with confirmation of interest by the nominee. Nominees should have the verbal approval of their supervisor. Written nominations totalling no more than 400 words are recommended; guilds choose nomination questions.
  3. A panel of one-three people made up of guild members and/or leadership from other guilds conducts brief (no more than 30 minute) interviews of candidates and makes a selection.
  4. The current guild leader announces the new leader, who takes up the position immediately.