a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Modernizing Government Services, from Food Stamps to Foster Care

Jimmy Chen, Todd Young, and Matthew Colford

Posted June 7, 2017

When people think of modernizing government, they tend to think of new IT, of improved procurement, of new infrastructure … rather than social services like foster care or food stamps. But how can we actually help improve daily lives — less in the abstract and more concretely — by applying tools and lessons from consumer tech to help put food on the table, or to find a safe foster home for children?

In this episode of the a16z Podcast, recorded from Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. as part of our D.C. podcast roadshow, Propel CEO Jimmy Chen describes the evolution of the food stamp program from paper stamps to an 800number and EBT card to an app that actually helps make easier and better decisions. Senator Todd Young (R-Indiana), whose district is “ground zero” for the opioid crisis, describes efforts to improve and modernize an interstate foster care placement process. Together, they discuss how the public and private sector can work together to experiment, iterate, and measure success and outcomes; think more holistically about people’s problems and therefore the best solutions; and how to combat poverty.